The Bikeriders Review

Cast: Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon, Mike Faist

Genre: Gangster, Crime, Drama

Director: Jeff Nichols

In Irish Cinemas: 21st June 2024


In the backdrop of 1960s Chicago, a photojournalist named Mike Faist embarks on a captivating journey into the gritty world of a motorcycle gang. His lens captures the raw essence of their lives, but as he delves deeper, the tensions within the group escalate, threatening to erupt into violence. This unique narrative documents the gang’s volatile dynamics and offers an unflinching portrayal of the era’s countercultural movements.

Director Jeff Nichols’s deliberate pacing and meticulous attention to detail are evident in every frame of The Bikeriders. This is mirrored in Austin Butler’s performance, where every line of dialogue is carefully measured. His words often come after a thoughtful pause or a contemplative look, as if he is savouring each one before speaking. This unhurried delivery perfectly complements the film’s tone, a richly textured portrayal of oil-stained Americana that lingers in the viewer’s mind.


Stretching a story about a gang of unruly bikers over nearly two hours is bold. Drawing inspiration from Danny Lyon’s book of the same name, the film interprets the author, portrayed by a bearded Mike Faist, as he chronicles the fictionalised group, The Vandals. These characters spend their days drinking, fighting, and racing through their hometown of Chicago. Central to the narrative is Butler’s Benny, a quiet and thoughtful loyalist whose turbulent relationships with the fatherly Johnny (played by Tom Hardy, channelling his inner Brando) and his partner Kathy (Jodie Comer) drive the conflict.


The latter serves as the film’s secondary storyteller, narrating her experiences to Danny during the mid-1960s and early 1970s. Her unwavering love for Benny clashes sharply with The Vandals’ priorities, oscillating between idleness and violence. A cast of compelling supporting characters enriches the narrative. Michael Shannon, a frequent collaborator with Nichols, portrays a disillusioned army reject who finds solace in his meticulous bike work. A dynamic newcomer, Toby Wallace plays a restless youth seeking meaning and belonging within The Vandals. However, their stories are overshadowed by the central conflict between Kathy and Johnny, who vie for control over Benny’s future. Despite the escalating tension as Johnny’s leadership grows more ruthless, this primary struggle alone lacks the momentum to keep the story consistently engaging.


The Bikeriders is an exquisitely shot film, drenched in sun-baked hues that capture the essence of its rugged setting. The cinematography, expertly handled by Nichols’ long-time collaborator Adam Stone, often views The Vandals’ convoy from a distance, sometimes embracing a documentary-style approach. However, this observational stance diminishes the gang’s vitality: the violence, the bloodshed, and even the clinking of ice in a swiftly drained bourbon glass feel oddly sterile. Jodie Comer shines as a lively narrator, her animated Chicago accent bringing some life to the story. However, the film lacks the urgency and drive one would expect from a tale centred on a lawless, energetic gang. While the film boasts impressive craftsmanship and serves as a slick vehicle for Austin Butler’s rising stardom, it struggles to capture the rebellious spirit of its subjects fully. “The Bikeriders” ends up as more of a slow burn than an exhilarating ride, offering a beautifully shot yet superficial glimpse into the visceral and violent world of vintage motorhead culture. Despite its aesthetic achievements, the film merely scratches the surface of its potential, leaving a sense of incompleteness in its wake.

Overall: 6.5/10

Share now!

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Us

Scroll to Top