Austin Butler has gone from being a Hounddog to a moto-hog in Jeff Nichols’ “The Bikeriders.”
The “Elvis” Oscar nominee leads the 1960s-set period piece that follows the rise of a fictional Midwestern motorcycle club. Jodie Comer, Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon, Boyd Holbrook, and Norman Reedus also star in the 20th Century Studios release, marking Nichols’ first film since 2016’s “Midnight Special.”
The official synopsis reads: Inspired by Danny Lyon’s iconic book of photography, “The Bikeriders” immerses you in the look, feel, and sounds of the bare-knuckled, grease-covered subculture of ’60s motorcycle riders. Kathy (Comer), a strong-willed member of the Vandals who’s married to a wild, reckless bikerider named Benny (Butler), recounts the Vandals’ evolution over the course of a decade, beginning as a local club of outsiders united by good times, rumbling bikes, and respect for their strong, steady leader Johnny (Hardy).
Over the years, Kathy tries her best to navigate her husband’s untamed nature and his allegiance to Johnny, with whom she feels she must compete for Benny’s attention. As life in the Vandals gets more dangerous, and the club threatens to become a more sinister gang, Kathy, Benny and Johnny are forced to make choices about their loyalty to the club and to each other.
“The Bikeriders,” written and directed by “Loving” filmmaker Nichols, kicked off the Telluride Film Festival and is set to screen at the London Film Festival in October. The cast mostly did their own riding on period-correct bikes, with Nichols telling IndieWire that actor Hardy especially was a “force” onscreen in the role.
“Tom doesn’t strike me as an actor, certainly not in the traditional sense,” Nichols said. “He’s like a hurricane or a tornado. Like you sit back and watch. But then when you have all that he vibrates.”
“The Bikeriders” is produced by Sarah Green, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and Arnon Milchan, with Yariv Milchan, Michael Schaefer, Sam Hanson, David Kern, and Fred Berger serving as executive producers.
IndieWire critic David Ehrlich called the film a “new American classic” that captures the “golden age of motorcycles giving way to the all-too-familiar entropy that ended it…There’s no denying the Vandals had their day, and it makes for exhilarating stuff no matter how dark things after night falls.”
“The Bikeriders” premieres in theaters December 1. Check out the trailer and poster below.