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  • robertfarago1

The Bikeriders - Movie Review

I recently watched a documentary asserting that Neanderthals were smarter than we thought. I just watched a movie that convinced me Neanderthals were smarter than Homo Sapiens. Or at least members of the Vandals motorcycle gang.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the bikers in this ditchwater dull documentary masquerading as a movie are morons. 

That's not necessarily an impediment to making a great movie. Rocky's success tells us it's entirely possible to make an engaging movie with "intellectually challenged" central characters.

To that end, Vandal's Club President Johnny and his bouffant boy toy Benny could have been lovable morons. Misunderstood morons. Socially ostracized morons. Love struck morons. Nope. They're just morons.

As is Benny's wife Kathy, the movie's narrator and the third leg of The Bikeriders' love triangle.

You'd have to be a moron to miss that one.

I almost had a Coke-Zero-through-the-nose moment when Johnny said "Look at you all propped-up in bed like the Queen." To which his wounded amigo Benny replied, "Who you calling a Queen?"

If that was a bit subtle for non-LGBTQ+ aware moviegoers, Bikeriders goes whole hog, when Kathy tries to extricate hubby Benny from the Vandals. "You can't have him!" she yells at Johnny. "I'm his wife, not you!"

All leading to the scene where the two barely emoting bikers slink off into the dark, get lip-lock close and discuss club leadership in hushed, loving tones. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Other than the fact that the two Vandals don't kiss. At least the movie would have been about something.

The Bikeriders ignores, avoids or dances around any and all gang-related controversy: drug dealing, extortion, robbery, violence, vandalism, murder, misogyny and, most tellingly of all, rape.

In the only scene touching on the subject, four Vandals drag a screaming struggling Kathy towards an upstairs bedroom.

Johnny rescues his BFF's wife from a case of "mistaken identity." She'd donned the intended target's red dress after its original owner "didn't need it" because "she took some fellas upstairs." For consensual sex? Riiiight.

Kathy's sexual assault is further explained as the lamentable behavior of "the new members."

Less honorable types. Pot smokers! Heroine users! Vietnam vets! Unwelcome infiltrators! As if Club Prez Johnny didn't personally vette these "unruly" recuits. Riiiight.

Again, The Bike Riders fails to explore a potentially interesting topic. Specifically, how the Vandals fit into – I mean didn't fit into society during a time of radical social upheaval. And how changing times changed them.

Riders makes only the faintest of head nods to the politics or gestalt of the day. When Benny complains about the club's [unexplained] evolution, Johnny asks "What do you think this is? What did you think this was going to be?"

Good question! No answer provided, either via explanatory dialogue or my own analysis after watching Bikeriders stumble around for nearasdammit two hours. The only clue...

Bikeriders traces the Vandals' genesis to Johnny watching The Wild One on a black-and-white TV. Specifically, the bit where Mildred asks Marlon Brando's character "What are you rebelling against?" To which he famously replies "What have you got?"

The quote is often attributed to Rebel Without a Cause. Bikeriders should have taken James Dean's classic as inspiration for its title. I'm thinking Rebels Without a Clue.

Then again, maybe not. If Benny, Johnny or Kathy were rebelling against anything other than the urge to have a threesome I totally missed it. But I didn't miss The Bikeriders' "What have you got?" moment.

Johnny is desescalating a conflict with a rival biker. Out of nowhere, Benny runs up and clocks the guy. Cuddling his injured hot-headed homie in the aftermath of a Batman '66-style biff bam pow brawl, Johnny asks his Vandal-in-arms what he was thinking.

"What did I need to think for?" Benny replies. A line lifted from writer/director Jeff Nichols' Bikeriders' pitch meeting? I wouldn't bet against it.

In Bikeriders' defense, it's the only movie I've ever seen that fully deserves the "scenes involving smoking" warning at the beginning of streamed movies. Everyone smokes all the time.

Luckily for our impressionable youth, only an idiot would be inspired by these on-screen idiots to think smoking is cool. Just as only an idiot would spend good money watching The Bikeriders on the big screen, even if he was a die-hard biker. Oh wait...

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Jun 26

Guess you took one for the team, Robert. I'd like to say you saved me from watching that one, but I've been avoiding movies for years.

Here's a photo from two days ago showing how I prefer to enjoy my retirement, at least on days when the weather is perfect. That's Mt. St. Helens in the background and a Subway sandwich on the table. On this little day trip, my odometer passed 37k, the most I've ever put on one bike, by a small margin. I estimate my lifetime motorcycle mileage to be approaching 150k at age 70.


Jun 25

Why did you waste $10 there has not been a good movie coming out of Hollywood in what 20 years. However I guess there is a need for a new Gene Siskel and our humble author/documentarian/world traveler has the skill set but with reviews like this one don’t expect to get any invites to star studded Hollywood premiers. Sort of like trashing the new Cyber Truck and expecting a long term loaner, not going to happen. Ride safe my friend.

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