Austin Butler as Benny in 'The Bikeriders'
(Focus Features)

‘The Bikeriders’ Is a Breathtaking Look at Motorcycle Club Culture

Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders could come across as gimmicky. Instead, it is a visually stunning look at club culture for bike gangs back in the ’60s. Focusing on the Vandals, a Chicago bike gang, the film spans years of their lives together as a crew.

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Based on the book of the same name by Danny Lyon, the film focuses on interviews that Danny (Mike Faist) did with Kathy (Jodie Comer) and the crew. She became involved with the Vandals when Benny (Austin Butler) met her in a bar one night and was smitten with her. Despite their differing personalities, Kathy and Benny found love with each other, but she was loud about what she thought the Vandals needed to change.

Led by Johnny (Tom Hardy), the club started because they were a group of men who just loved riding and bikes. But as the culture shifted, the crew had to come face to face with people who wanted bike gangs to have more power than they do.

What I love about The Bikeriders is that it keeps you on your toes. Kathy is telling the story from her point of view, and you never quite know what happened to her and Benny’s relationship until the end, but through Kathy’s “outsider” look into the Vandals, we see these men for who they truly are instead of a warped view of them because their friend is telling this story. Kathy is not really a friend of the Vandals, she’s Benny’s girl, and it gives us a unique look into who everyone is (to Kathy).

Comer does an absolutely beautiful job of capturing Kathy’s midwest energy (and accent), and you want to cling to every word she says. But beside that, The Bikeriders is just breathtaking to watch.

Men and their bikes

Jodie Comer as Kathy in 20th Century Studios' THE BIKERIDERS. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
(Focus Features)

There is nothing quite like a man on a motorcycle (to me), so scenes with the club all riding together just left me stunned. It helps that all these men are at their peak and as beautiful as can be, riding on motorcycles and just enjoying the brotherhood of the Vandals together. I loved watching Funny Sunny (Norman Reedus) and Cal (Boyd Holbrook) building a friendship together, making fun of each other in the background, so that when they’re at the forefront, the audience knows what their energy is.

I loved seeing the entire club riding together with the sun behind them, and I could have watched this movie and just had those scenes to work with. I’d love it and I would have been fine with it, but instead, Nichols gave us a look into Kathy’s view of things, and we have this perspective of what is happening contrasted with beautiful images of men on motorcycles, and I just couldn’t get enough of it.

It’s a fantastic way of bringing a photography/interview novel to life in stunning detail. I cannot say enough good things about this movie, and I just want to live with this club as Danny got to and understand everything they go through. I also wouldn’t hate a Vandals vest.

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.