The Bikeriders | Picturehouse Recommends

It's time to get revved up for Jeff Nichols' effortlessly cool, star studded biker epic - starring Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, and Jodie Comer.

James Mottram

19 Jun 24

Jeff Nichols

Release Date
21 June


Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Jodie Comer, Norman Reedus, Mike Faist, Michael Shannon, Toby Wallace


Running Time
116 mins

A one-time staple of Hollywood, the biker movie is back – thanks to acclaimed American writer-director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Midnight Special). It is inspired by Danny Lyon's seminal 1967 book of black-and-white photographs, taken during his time hanging out with a Chicago biker gang.

Nichols has assembled one of the finest casts this year, as he paints an indelible picture of dive bars, cook-outs and – most importantly – motorbike meets.

Charting the rise and fall of a fictional Midwest motorcycle gang, the Vandals MC, The Bikeriders is narrated by Kathy (Jodie Comer), a smart, perceptive woman who soon finds herself drawn to Benny (Austin Butler), a real rebel without a cause. She soon discovers the lifestyle is one fraught with danger and fatal road accidents are the order of the day. Leader of the pack is Johnny (Tom Hardy), a truck driver who decides to set up the Vandals after watching Marlon Brando rev up his Triumph Thunderbird 6T in The Wild One. With Kathy as our eyes onto this unconventional, rebellious existence, the compelling story brings into focus the camaraderie between Johnny, Benny and the other hard-drinking, hard-living members of the gang.

Drawing inspiration from Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, which similarly explores the highs and lows of gangster living, The Bikeriders is divided into chapters, spanning '67 to '73, as Nichols shows the variable fortunes of this outlaw outfit. Power plays become a main theme, as Johnny is faced with others who want the Vandals to expand their influence across the region.

It's a film that brims with top-drawer performances, beginning with Hardy, who admirably conveys the tension between a domestic life and this counterculture existence. Comer, adopting a remarkably acute Midwest accent, is equally convincing as the plain-speaking, chain-smoking Kathy, a woman who remarks wryly that she used to be "respectable" until she got embroiled with the Vandals. And then there's Butler, the Oscar-nominated star of Elvis, who simply oozes charisma as the untamed Benny.

Aside from the main trio, Nichols' exemplary supporting cast is an embarrassment of riches. Mike Faist, recently seen in Challengers, plays Danny, the photographer documenting the Vandals. Among those he snaps are Boyd Holbrook's lieutenant, Cal, and Nichols regular Michael Shannon, who looks gnarly as Zipco, forever talking about "pinkos". The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus also features as an L.A. biker who joins the gang (and, amusingly, is paid money to sit on a Harley and advertise Easy Rider).

Each player makes a vivid impression with their screen time. Character actors like Beau Knapp (as Wahoo), Emory Cohen (Cockroach), Karl Glusman (Corky) and Damon Herriman (Brucie) all get a moment to shine.

Most of all, the British-Australian rising star Toby Wallace (Babyteeth) makes his mark as a hotheaded kid desperate to team up with Johnny and co.

Nichols brings the era alive also with a remarkable soundtrack that includes songs by The Animals, The Stooges, The Shangri-Las, and others. A tapestry of tunes that hits the right note every time, it'll be your go-to '60s playlist before you know it.

It all adds up to an effortlessly cool film, featuring the best actors around. It's time to get revved up for The Bikeriders.  James Mottram

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The Bikeriders is in cinemas from 21 June Book Now!