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The Bike Riders

Ok don’t expect this to be a deep review of the Bike Riders film, as I tend to go to the cinema to be entertained rather than analyse a film. And blagging a £5 cinema ticket deal for an early evening showing it seemed too good a film to miss on the big screen.

Knowing the film was based on “the bike riders” a book by Danny Lyons from the late 60s which encapsulated the then emerging biker scene with some of his iconic photos. Many of which can be found here m/exhibitions/180-danny-lyon-the-bikeriders/. As a photographer I was looking forward to this.

In the original book the photos were of the  Outlaws, and in the film, they are depicted as the Vandals,  I was not disappointed in the photography side of the film and there were several set scenes which mimicked these photos.

I liked the way the film was seen through the eyes (and the eyes were mazing)of Kathy (Jodie Comer) who met  Benny (Austin Butler)from the Vandals and retold their story along with Johnny (Tom Hardy) the leader of the group through Danny (Mike Faist) who was recording their story.  Showing how the club grew from simple beginnings to be what it was in the early 70’s.

Despite some reviews talking about a love triangle between Kathy, Benny and Johnny I don’t think the reviewers understand the bonds that riders have to fellow riders, hence the term brotherhood used regularly amongst modern clubs. But to my mind showed how Johnny wanted part of lifestyle Benny had, as Johnny was married, kids and job to start with, and became disillusioned as club grew beyond control. I never saw it as sexual between the male characters.

Theres some great period bikes in the film as you would expect, and nice to see being started without the dramatic balletic leg swing many current chopper riders use. Yes, a couple aren’t quite period, but who cares it’s a film not a documentary, as it carried on past where Dannys book finished into the early 70s.

In much the way as one of my favourite films “the Loveless”  there were many close up and dramatic art scenes but if going for the look why not show the details you had gone for, although much of their gear looked very clean and tiday. While we had a brief clip of Marlon Brando on the TV in the “wild one” which apparently influenced Johnny, I’m sure I’m not the only one who was awaiting Johnny to mutter “Gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse” as Tom Hardys character seemed to get more like Brando as film progressed.

The music if a good mix from the era too, and not just your classic biker tunes. Also, thankfully the film producer didn’t film it all in the dark, like many films are now.

I thoroughly enjoyed it as a film, but I do love old bikes and club scene, even though this was very different. It obviously won’t appeal to all but if you have an interest in bikes, how bike clubs evolved and 1960s America I am sure you will not be disappointed. Yes, we could see more of the bikes and how some things happened (there seemed to be a few gaps), but the story works fine as is, and at 1hr 56 minutes is just long enough (I didn’t look at watch). It also seems more genuine than the shock biker films of late 60s like “Hells Angels on wheels” even though they had genuine bikers in them.

There are several of the original photos in the end credits too .

I hope you enjoy it too