THE BIKERIDERS Review – Brotherhood, Belonging, and Freedom

THE BIKERIDERS is a grizzled tale of brotherhood and belonging that captures the rise of a myth and uncontrollable reality of the legend
The Bikeriders Review

Focus Features’ The Bikeriders is a stunning exploration of a nostalgic and often mythicized era of American history, capturing the essence of the 1960s motorcycle club culture with precision and heart. Directed by Jeff Nichols, the film brings to life the genuine love and camaraderie among men within the motorcycle club, illustrating how their bonds and values evolve over time, leading to misinterpretations and conflicts about their purpose.

A Grounded and Gripping Story

The Bikeriders Review
(L to R) Austin Butler as Benny and Tom Hardy as Johnny in director Jeff Nichols’ THE BIKERIDERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features. © 2024 Focus Features. All Rights Reserved.

The Bikeriders does not over-glorify its subject matter. Instead, it offers a grounded and gripping story that examines the complexities of identity and belonging within a subculture. The film’s narrative, inspired by Danny Lyon’s seminal 1968 book, is intimate and uncompromising, providing a raw perspective on the iconic outlaw bikers and the rebellious culture they were born out of.


The film’s portrayal of the motorcycle club is both nuanced and unflinching. It captures the allure of the open road and the sense of freedom that comes with it, while also exploring the darker consequences of living on the edge. The characters’ struggles with loyalty, identity, and purpose are portrayed with a level of depth and authenticity that makes the film’s themes resonate deeply with the audience.

A Genuine Tribute to Brotherhood and Belonging

The Bikeriders Review
(L to R) Tom Hardy as Johnny and Austin Butler as Benny in director Jeff Nichols’ THE BIKERIDERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features. © 2024 Focus Features. All Rights Reserved.

What I particularly love about The Bikeriders is that beautifully captures the genuine love and relationships fostered and embodied by the motorcycle club. The film highlights how the growth of the club allowed for misinterpretations of values and purpose, leading to a more sinister evolution. This exploration of the club’s transformation is both poignant and compelling, making it clear how easily the lines between camaraderie and criminality can blur.

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The sense of belonging and the bliss that comes with it is profoundly depicted throughout the film. The motorcycle club serves as a sanctuary for its members, providing them with a sense of identity and community that transcends the mundane realities of their lives. This aspect of the film is incredibly touching, showcasing the importance of having a place where one truly belongs and can rely on others for support and understanding.

No Small Roles

The Bikeriders Review
Norman Reedus as Funny Sonny in director Jeff Nichols’ THE BIKERIDERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features. © 2024 Focus Features. All Rights Reserved.

The film’s greatest strength lies in its ensemble cast, particularly the three leads who deliver powerhouse performances. Jodie Comer stands out as the narrator and the audience’s perspective, providing a deeply personal and relatable lens through which the story unfolds. Comer’s nuanced performance adds layers to the narrative, making her an emotional anchor for the audience.

The performances in The Bikeriders are exceptional across the board. Jodie Comer’s portrayal of Kathy is both powerful and nuanced, serving as the film’s emotional core. Comer’s ability to convey a wide range of emotions, from love and joy to fear and disillusionment, makes her character incredibly relatable and engaging. Her narration provides a cohesive thread that ties the various elements of the story together, making her performance indispensable to the film’s success.

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Austin Butler delivers a strong performance as Benny, a thrill-seeker torn between his love for Kathy and his loyalty to freedom. Butler’s portrayal captures the youthful exuberance and inner turmoil of a man caught between conflicting loyalties. His chemistry with Comer is palpable, adding an extra layer of depth to their relationship.

Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Johnny, the enigmatic leader of the Vandals, is intense and captivating. Hardy brings a brooding charisma to the role, embodying the complexity of a man who is both a charismatic leader and a deeply flawed individual. His performance anchors the film, providing a compelling focal point for the narrative.

Austin Butler and Tom Hardy bring authenticity and depth to their roles, creating a palpable sense of brotherhood and shared history and an understanding of emotion that men of the times were actively programmed to act like they don’t have and experience.

What truly makes The Bikeriders shine are the side characters who seamlessly transition between the foreground and background, narratively and visually, each given their moment to enrich the story. These characters embody the adage that there are no small roles, only small actors, as each performance adds to the film’s rich tapestry. This collective effort creates a world that feels lived-in and authentic, enhancing the overall impact of the film.

The secondary characters are portrayed with as much care and attention as the leads, ensuring that every interaction and subplot adds depth to the overarching narrative. The film benefits immensely from this approach, as it creates a more immersive and engaging experience for the audience. Each character, no matter how minor, contributes to the film’s exploration of themes such as loyalty, betrayal, and the quest for meaning.

Masterful Direction

The Bikeriders Review
(L to R) Mike Faist as Danny and Jodie Comer as Kathy in director Jeff Nichols’ THE BIKERIDERS. Credit: Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features © 2024 Focus Features, LLC. All RIghts Reserved.

Director Jeff Nichols deserves commendation for crafting a story that is both entertaining and impactful without relying on over-glorification or nostalgia. The Bikeriders is a narrative-driven film that delves into the complexities of friendships, growing up, maturing, and the bittersweet realization of knowing when to move on. Nichols skillfully balances the raw, gritty aspects of motorcycle culture with the more tender, human moments, creating a film that resonates on multiple levels.

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Nichols’ direction ensures that the film remains grounded and relatable, despite its mythic undertones. He deftly navigates the fine line between celebrating the rebellious spirit of the motorcycle club and critiquing the darker aspects of its evolution. This balanced approach allows the film to maintain its authenticity and emotional depth, making it a compelling watch from start to finish.

Summer Expectations and Emotional Resonance

(L-R): Jodie Comer as Kathy and Austin Butler as Benny in director Jeff Nichols’ THE BIKERIDERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features. © 2024 Focus Features. All Rights Reserved.

While The Bikeriders is thoroughly enjoyable and potentially an award contender, its release during the summer blockbuster season feels slightly out of place. The film, though beautifully shot and engaging, lacks the expected spectacle of summer hits. Instead, it offers a more introspective and narrative-focused experience, which may not align with typical summer movie expectations. However, this should not detract from its merits as a powerful and emotionally resonant film.

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The cinematography by Adam Stone captures the raw beauty of the American landscape, providing a visually stunning backdrop for the film’s narrative. The film’s visual style is both gritty and poetic, reflecting the contrasting elements of freedom and confinement that define the characters’ lives. The use of natural light and wide shots enhances the sense of realism and immersion, drawing the audience into the world of the motorcycle club.

The Making of Myths and Legends

The Bikeriders Review
Austin Butler stars as Benny in director Jeff Nichols’ THE BIKERIDERS. Credit: Bryan Schutmaat/Focus Features © 2024 Focus Features, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Bikeriders is a triumph of storytelling and character development, capturing the spirit of a bygone era with grace and authenticity. The film’s emotional resonance, combined with its stellar performances and thoughtful direction, makes it a must-watch. It reminds us of the importance of friendships, the inevitability of change, and the courage required to move forward. Whether or not it fits the mold of a summer blockbuster, The Bikeriders stands out as a compelling and deeply moving cinematic experience.

The film’s exploration of the themes of brotherhood, belonging, and the pursuit of freedom is both poignant and powerful. It captures the essence of a time and place that has become part of the American mythos, while also providing a fresh and nuanced perspective on the lives of the men who lived it. The Bikeriders is a film that will resonate with audiences long after the credits roll, leaving them with a deeper understanding of the complexities of human relationships and the quest for meaning in a chaotic world.

I give The Bikeriders


The Bikeriders releases in theaters on June 21, 2024.

About The Bikeriders

The Bikeriders Review

RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2024
PRODUCERS: Sarah Green,p.g.a,  Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, p.g.a, Arnon Milchan
CAST: Jodie Comer, Austin Butler and Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon, Mike Faist with Norman Reedus

THE BIKERIDERS captures a rebellious time in America when the culture and people were changing. After a chance encounter at a local bar, strong-willed Kathy (Jodie Comer) is inextricably drawn to Benny (Austin Butler), the newest member of Midwestern motorcycle club, the Vandals led by the enigmatic Johnny (Tom Hardy). Much like the country around it, the club begins to evolve, transforming from a gathering place for local outsiders into a dangerous underworld of violence, forcing Benny to choose between Kathy and his loyalty to the club.

Do you have your tickets for The Bikeriders? Can Austin Butler escape his Elvis accent? How does Tom Hardy find all these unique voices for his characters? Let us know your thoughts on social media!

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Kevin Fenix

Professional Nerd | Amateur Human | Creative/Content Director The best way to describe Kevin Fenix is the kid you never tell what the buttons do in video games so you have a chance to win. Being 6’ 4” and Asian, he never really fit in, so he got comfortable standing out. Not only is it easy to find him in crowds, he dabbles in the culinary arts, does a little stand up and improv, and can honestly say Spider-Man is the Jesus-like influence of his life. Kevin Fenix loves dogs, movies, television, comics, comedy, and to shoot people… with video.