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The Bikeriders successfully explores the themes of loyalty and motorcycles

In his sixth directorial endeavor, esteemed writer and director Jeff Nichols presents a fictional narrative inspired by Danny Lyon's 1967 photo book, "The Bikeriders." This film vividly portrays a period of significant cultural and societal shifts in America. The story begins with the tenacious Kathy (Jodie Comer), who finds herself irresistibly drawn to Benny (Austin Butler) following an unexpected encounter at a local bar.

Benny is the newest recruit of the Midwestern motorcycle club known as the Vandals, under the enigmatic leadership of Johnny (Tom Hardy). The club's eclectic roster includes members such as Cockroach (Emory Cohen), Cal (Boyd Holbrook), Bruice (Damon Herriman), and Wahoo (Beau Knapp). As the nation transforms, so does the Vandals motorcycle club—transitioning from a haven for local misfits into a perilous criminal enterprise. Confronted with escalating violence within this new dark underworld, Benny faces an excruciating dilemma: choosing between his deepening affection for Kathy and his unwavering loyalty to the club.

I've never felt the urge to own a motorcycle. To me, the excitement of riding a bike at a local arcade was satisfying enough. Nevertheless, even before the popularity of the television series "Sons of Anarchy" and the film "Biker Boyz," what intrigued me most was the strong sense of brotherhood and camaraderie found within motorcycle clubs. Furthermore, Tom Hardy is one of my favorite actors, so "The Bikeriders" was right up my alley.

Nichols begins his film by introducing Benny amid a tussle in a bar with a couple of townies and then takes us back to with a narrative choice that explains how we got to that point. Fresh off his work in the phenomenal "Challengers," Mike Faist continues to make a name for himself as interviewer Danny Lyon. While Faist gets a chance to interact with all of the cast, the bulk of his scenes are engaging dialogue-driven moments with Jodie Comer.

Jodie Comer serves as the pivotal consciousness of the narrative, our guide on this journey into the realm of bike clubs. Initially devoid of rules, this world gradually succumbs to violence and corruption. It exploits individuals ensnared by values that fail to foster growth, instead leaving them mired in an identity crisis within a society where they perpetually struggle to find their place.

Butler and Hardy, meanwhile, easily tap into their roles of mentor and apprentice. Butler, who is already established as a force in "Elivs" and "Dune Part Two," disappears into our primary protagonist role, ever giving off cocky or arrogant vibes. While he is always enjoyable, Hardy shows us why he's naturally an alpha male. The supporting cast, who comprise the rest of the club, also provide solid work.

"The Bikeriders" offers a nostalgic journey to an iconic era often celebrated in literature and film. Nichols does not depict triumphant heroes; instead, he introduces individuals driven by pure ideals who occasionally falter and lose their way. The work provides a captivating glimpse into a distant, yet idealistic world, teeming with the unforgettable years of internal and external conflicts.

Final Grade: A-

"The Bikeriders" opens in theaters on Thursday June, 20th


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