‘The Bikeriders’ Movie Review: Great Performances from a Lackluster Script

The Bikeriders Movie Review

The Bikeriders, directed by Jeff Nichols, explores the 1960s Chicago biker gang, the Vandals. Though visually stunning, the film struggles to convey a compelling narrative, leaving much to be desired even though fans have been waiting for this film for quite some time.

The film captures a rebellious time in America when culture and people were changing. After meeting at a local bar, strong-willed Kathy (Jodie Comer) is irresistibly drawn to Benny (Austin Butler), the newest member of the Midwestern motorcycle club, the Vandals, led by the enigmatic Johnny (Tom Hardy). As the country evolves, so does the club, turning from a haven for local outsiders into a violent underworld, forcing Benny to choose between Kathy and his loyalty to the club.

The Bikeriders Movie Trailer

The Bikeriders Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

I appreciated the stellar performances by Austin Butler, Jodie Comer, and Tom Hardy. They brought depth to their characters despite a weak script. The cinematography is another highlight, offering a beautifully gritty portrayal of the era.

However, the storyline itself felt long, slow, and meandering, lacking a clear point or message. Much of the dialogue seemed unimportant, and the movie failed to delve deeply into its potentially rich historical context that I was hoping for.

The Bikeriders Movie
Photo courtesy of Focus Features

The Story & Script

The film follows the story of the Vandals, a Chicago biker gang, narrated through a series of flashbacks. Kathy, portrayed by Jodie Comer, recounts her experiences from the 1970s interviews with Danny Lyon (Mike Faist). Her story begins in 1965 when she meets Benny (Austin Butler) and immediately falls for his rebellious charm. Despite their palpable on-screen chemistry, the narrative fails to explore their relationship deeply, often telling rather than showing their connection.

As the gang’s enforcer, Benny embodies the untamed spirit of the group. The plot revolves around his internal conflict: his allegiance to the Vandals versus his love for Kathy. This struggle is further complicated by the gang’s leader, Johnny (Tom Hardy), who sees Benny as his potential successor.

The Bikeriders Movie
Photo courtesy of Focus Features

The Performances

The trio of Austin Butler, Jodie Comer, and Tom Hardy delivers top-tier performances. Butler portrays Benny with a quiet intensity, perfectly capturing the character’s wild yet loyal persona. Comer’s Kathy is the emotional core, balancing strength and vulnerability, though her performance sometimes feels restrained by the script. Hardy, as Johnny, brings his usual commanding presence, though his character seems a bit too familiar, echoing roles he has previously tackled. That being said, he was probably my favorite character here.

Supporting actors like Damon Herriman, Boyd Holbrook, and Emory Cohen add depth to the cast. However, the script doesn’t give them enough room to truly shine. Their characters serve the story adequately but lack significant character development.

The Bikeriders Movie
Photo courtesy of Focus Features

Overall Thoughts

The Bikeriders is a visually stunning film, which also boasts truly exceptional performances from its leads. However, it falls short in delivering a compelling narrative. The film’s pacing is slow, and the plot often feels directionless. Despite the evident passion behind its creation, the movie struggles to maintain a sense of urgency and purpose, leaving viewers yearning for more substantive storytelling.

While Nichols succeeds in creating a vivid portrayal of the biker lifestyle, the lack of a focused narrative and deeper character exploration prevents The Bikeriders from reaching its potential. It’s a film that dazzles with its aesthetics and performances but ultimately feels like a missed opportunity. 

Overall, The Bikeriders fails to leave a lasting impact, feeling more like a drive to nowhere rather than a compelling journey.

The Bikeriders Movie Review

Grade: C


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