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The Hollywood Insider The Bikeriders Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Jodie Comer

The newest release from director and writer, Jeff Nichols, hit theatres this weekend. ‘The Bikeriders’ is a new historical film with a star-studded cast that hit theatres this week. ‘The Bikeriders’ premiered at the 50th Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2023, and was released in the United States on June 21, 2024. Originally scheduled to be released theatrically in the United States on December 1, 2023, by 20th Century Studios, the release was delayed due to the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. While fans have been waiting for months for the new Jeff Nichols film, ‘The Bikeriders’ takes a new spin on the biker gang film.


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‘The Bikeriders’ is a a historical drama about a 1950s and 60s biker gang. The story told through interviews and flashback scenes, mainly focuses on the romance between biker, Benny, and Kathy, the goodie-two-shoes who falls in love with him, and the conflict between the bikers. Eventually, Benny must choose between his motorcycle or his wife. Due to the nature of the edgy, biker gang story, this film does contain a multitude of violent scenes, as well as an attempted rape scene, so ‘The Bikeriders’ is not for the squeamish, or those who could be triggered by this sensitive topic.


The story is based on the real Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club. One of the aspects of this film is how the biking club changed from a group of outsiders who loved riding motorcycles, to this sinister gang, which threatens the original member’s ideas for the group. This motif of change throughout the film feels real to many groups. This aspect of the film felt relatable for audiences, as all groups go through changes through their times. Especially the dialogue surrounding these changes felt realistic, like real interviews or conversations that happen in real life.


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As the film begins, it takes an artistic approach, utilizing an interview or documentary style to begin the story. The film takes a similar approach to the storyline as ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’, starting with different interview segments and then flashbacks of the event, while Kathy or the other bikers interviewed narrates. However, this stylization takes a backseat as the film goes on and then restarts at the end. It almost felt like the interview style was forgotten about halfway through the film, and then the creative team remembered that they needed to tie in the interviews towards the end. The stylization felt like it got lost in the story.


The story felt incredibly tangible and real, and each actor did their part to help move the story. While I felt as though the characters weren’t as whole as they could have been, the story itself was whole. The characters all had a specific history with one another, and some moments of the interview portion and flashbacks helped demonstrate this. I felt as though I was able to follow the history of all of these relationships and understand the internal conflict between each of these characters. Sometimes when a film features a story that has a lot of background and history between characters, it can seem like certain elements can get lost. However, ‘The Bikeriders’ left little to nothing behind that the audience needed to know to fully digest the story. 


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As mentioned before, I felt as though the characters weren’t super fleshed out. I didn’t particularly connect to any of the characters, despite the strong performances in the film. The characters didn’t have any distinguishable personality traits, only things they loved and roles within the biker gang. For instance, Austin Butler’s character, Benny, loved nothing more than his bike and didn’t cry, which were some of the only traits displayed in this character. I wished that the characters in this film had more to them. Quite possibly, this could be due to the number of characters in this film, ranging from those in the biker gang, as well as those in the interview scenes. There were a lot of people to keep track of, and it was difficult to name these characters or any distinguishable traits. However, the costume, hair, and makeup team did a fantastic job of differentiating these characters from each other, visually, so these characters weren’t too difficult to keep track of.


As mentioned before, the actors in this film did a good job of portraying their characters. You could tell that these actors worked to keep substance within characters that felt half-baked. Jodie Comer took the lead as Kathy and was a strong female voice in a film that did not pass the Bechdel Test. Austin Butler as Benny was also a contender in this film, as he really took this job seriously and put on a performance that gave his character substance. It is hard to see the role of Benny played by anyone else. Mike Faist played Danny, the photographer and interviewer putting together a book about the biker gang. Tom Hardy, who plays one of the original members of the club, was spectacular and added a lot of substance to the film as well. These actors took care of each of these characters and added what they could into these characters.


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Overall, ‘The Bikeriders’ is an interesting look into biker gangs and the changes around them. The story featured a lot of substance and style, despite a lack of character. Despite an initial delay, ‘The Bikeriders’ is currently in theatres nationwide and will be available for streaming soon.


Cast: Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon, Mike Faist, Norman Reedus | Director: Jeff Nichols | Writer: Jeff Nichols | Producers: Sarah Green, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Arnon Milchan | Cinematography: Adam Stone | Editing: Julie Monroe


By Abigail Johnson

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