The Bikeriders

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This week we take to the road with “The Bikeriders,” directed by Jeff Nichols. When I first saw the trailers for this film it immediately reminded me of the movie “Lawless” also starring Tom Hardy. That film was VERY good. A true story about moonshiners. This film is not necessarily a true story but based on an actual biker “gang”. I was hopeful for a tense filled drama…although I’ll admit I am still having a hard time not seeing Austin Butler as Elvis…

Onto the film.

The movie follows the journey of a motorcycle club through the eyes of Kathy, played by Jodie Comer. Kathy’s perspective provides a unique lens through which the audience experiences the highs and lows of life within the club. Her relationship with Johnny, portrayed by Tom Hardy, forms the emotional core of the story, highlighting the personal stakes behind the club’s rough exterior.

Tom Hardy delivers a standout performance as Johnny, the club’s charismatic yet troubled leader. Hardy’s portrayal is intense and magnetic, capturing Johnny’s internal struggles and unwavering loyalty to the club. His chemistry with Jodie Comer is palpable, adding depth to their tumultuous relationship. Comer shines as Kathy, bringing a blend of vulnerability and strength to her role. Her character’s evolution from an outsider to a central figure within the club is both compelling and heartfelt.

Austin Butler’s Benny provides a fascinating contrast to Johnny. Benny’s arc from a naive newcomer to a hardened member of the club is portrayed with nuance and depth. Butler’s performance captures the allure and danger of the biker lifestyle, making Benny a relatable and sympathetic character.

Michael Shannon’s portrayal of Shaky, an older, seasoned member of the club, adds gravitas to the film. Shannon’s performance is understated yet powerful, reflecting the wisdom and weariness of a man who has seen it all. Boyd Holbrook and Norman Reedus also deliver strong performances as Danny and Bowden, respectively, each bringing their own unique presence to the club’s dynamic.

Jeff Nichols’ direction is masterful, capturing the raw energy and gritty realism of the biker subculture. The film’s cinematography, by Adam Stone, is stunning, with sweeping shots of open roads and close-ups that capture the characters’ emotional intensity. The use of natural lighting and desaturated colors enhances the film’s authentic feel, immersing viewers in the 1960s setting.

The screenplay, written by Nichols, is sharp and insightful. The dialogue is authentic and unflinching, reflecting the harsh realities and camaraderie of life in a motorcycle club. The film explores themes of freedom, brotherhood, and the cost of living on the edge, offering a nuanced portrayal of the biker lifestyle.

“The Bikeriders” is also notable for its soundtrack, which features a mix of period-appropriate rock and roll and an original score by David Wingo. The music enhances the film’s atmosphere, underscoring key moments with a mix of energy and melancholy.

Despite its many strengths, “The Bikeriders” is not without its flaws. Some viewers might find the film’s pacing uneven, with certain scenes feeling overly drawn out. Additionally, the film’s focus on the male-dominated world of the club can sometimes sideline the female characters, though Comer’s performance ensures Kathy remains a vital part of the narrative.

In conclusion, “The Bikeriders” is a compelling and gritty exploration of a subculture rarely depicted with such authenticity and depth. Jeff Nichols’ direction, combined with stellar performances from a talented cast, creates a film that is both emotionally resonant and visually striking. While it may not appeal to everyone, its raw portrayal of loyalty, identity, and freedom makes it a must-see for fans of character-driven dramas. 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

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