Sejak film masterpiece Easy Riders (1969), tercatat jarang sekali film yang mengangkat tema tentang geng motor di AS. Seingat saya, terdapat beberapa film aksi medioker, namun fokusnya bukan ke kehidupan para bikers-nya. The Bikeriders adalah film drama-kriminal yang digarap dan ditulis naskahnya oleh Jeff Nichols. Sang sineas kita kenal dengan beberapa film independen yang melanglang buana ke festival-festival film besar, seperti Take Shelter, Mud, hingga sci-fi, Midnight Special. Film ini diinspirasi dari album foto bertitel sama karya Danny Lyon. The Bikeriders dibintangi beberapa aktor besar, sebut saja Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, Michael Shannon, Jody Comer, hingga Boyd Hollbrook. Bermodal tema dan sederetan bintang besarnya akankah film ini memberi sesuatu yang menarik bagi subgenrenya?

The Bikeriders berkisah tentang kehidupan satu kelompok biker besar pada periode 1960-an, yakni Vandals yang dipimpin oleh Johnny (Hardy). Satu anak buahnya yang berkarakter dingin dan brutal adalah Benny (Butler). Benny didekati oleh seorang gadis muda, Kathy (Comer) yang akhirnya ia nikahi. Cerita berkisah seputar pasang surut kelompok biker ini di tengah transisi perubahan sosial ekonomi politik yang terjadi di AS.

Penonton yang berpikir ini sebuah film aksi berlatar geng motor adalah salah besar. Dominasi film ini menggambarkan perilaku dan polah para bikers dalam kesehariannya. Satu masalah bagi satu anggota adalah masalah bagi satu kelompok. Mereka ibarat keluarga besar yang selalu pergi dan berkumpul bersama. Hukum rimba berlaku hingga penegak hukum tidak mampu berbuat apa pun. Satu hal yang unik dan segar adalah film ini dituturkan melalui “gaya dokumenter”, diselipkan adegan wawancara Danny Lyon (penulis album foto) dengan para anggota bikers dan orang-orang terdekat mereka. Jadi boleh dibilang separuh isi film ini adalah Behind the Scene (BTS) dari album foto tersebut. Sesi wawancara adalah alur plot utama yang mengarahkan jalan kisahnya. Kisahnya bolak-balik, maju-mundur, masa lalu-sekarang, sering kali tanpa kita bisa menyadarinya, jika tak ada dialog yang menyertainya.

Satu poin terbesar selain cerita adalah penampilan para kastingnya. Satu peran yang amat dominan adalah sosok Cathy yang diperankan begitu natural oleh Jody Comer. Cathy adalah sosok netral yang mewakili penonton di tengah kehidupan para biker yang keras dan brutal. Butler yang berperan dingin sebagai Benny bermain baik, namun tanpa ada sesuatu yang membekas. Satu sosok yang menarik perhatian justru Tom Hardy sebagai sang pimpinan geng yang terlihat kalem tapi bengis. Sosoknya entah mengapa banyak mengingatkan dengan sosok Max dalam Mad Max: Fury Road. Sosok-sosok lainnya yang diperankan Holbrook serta Shannon tampil kuat sebagai para bawahan Johnny, yang dominan dialognya adalah gurauan atau penggalan kisah hidup mereka.

The Bikeriders adalah sebuah drama “semi-autobiografi” yang dikemas unik tentang kehidupan satu kelompok pengendara motor di AS dengan dukungan kuat sederetan bintangnya. Menonton film ini sensasinya mirip dengan Nomadland (2020) yang sama-sama mengusung tradisi dan budaya AS. Sepertinya penonton AS bakal mengapresiasi lebih, ketimbang penonton asing, seperti saya. Budaya anarki dan tradisi sebagai pengelana menjadi bagian dari sejarah yang tak terpisahkan bagi masyarakat AS. Bagi saya, ini cerminan (pemerintah) AS masa kini yang filosofinya tak jauh beda dengan para riders ini. Film perang istimewa yang rilis baru lalu, Civil War (2024) menjadi puncak ramalan yang kelak bisa terjadi. Terakhir, dalam konteks seni film, The Bikeriders bisa jadi adalah film penting bagi sejarah AS yang memperkaya subgenrenya dengan kisah dan penuturannya yang unik.

The Bikeriders: A Gripping Tale of Brotherhood, Loyalty, and the American Counterculture

Since the masterpiece Easy Riders (1969), there have been few films that have delved into the world of motorcycle gangs in the US. I can recall a few mediocre action flicks, but they didn’t focus on the lives of the bikers themselves. The Bikeriders is a crime drama written and directed by Jeff Nichols. Nichols is known for his independent films that have made the rounds of major film festivals, such as Take Shelter, Mud, and the sci-fi Midnight Special. This film is inspired by the photo album of the same name by Danny Lyon. The Bikeriders stars a stellar cast, including Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, Michael Shannon, Jody Comer, and Boyd Holbrook. With its intriguing theme and a lineup of big stars, does this film deliver something fresh for the subgenre?

Baca Juga  Totally Killer

The Bikeriders takes us into the lives of a large biker group in the 1960s, the Vandals, led by the enigmatic Johnny (Hardy). One of his cold and brutal henchmen is Benny (Butler). Benny is approached by a young woman, Kathy (Comer), whom he eventually marries. The story revolves around the ups and downs of this biker group amidst the changing social, economic, and political landscape of the US.

Audiences expecting an action-packed biker gang movie will be in for a surprise. The film focuses on the everyday lives and behaviors of the bikers. A problem for one member is a problem for the whole group. They are like a big family who always ride and hang out together. The law of the jungle prevails, and law enforcement is powerless to intervene.

A unique and refreshing aspect of the film is its “documentary style” narration, interspersed with interview scenes between Danny Lyon (the author of the photo album) and the biker gang members and their loved ones. So, you could say that half of the film is a behind-the-scenes (BTS) look at the photo album. The interview sessions are the main plot device that drives the story forward. The narrative goes back and forth, past and present, often without us realizing it, if there is no dialogue to accompany it.

One of the film’s biggest strengths, aside from the story, is its cast. Jody Comer delivers a remarkably natural performance as Cathy, a neutral figure who represents the audience amidst the harsh and brutal biker life. Butler plays the cold and calculating Benny well, but his performance is not particularly memorable. Tom Hardy, as the gang leader who appears calm but ruthless, is a captivating presence. The other characters played by Holbrook and Shannon are strong as Johnny’s subordinates, their dialogue often dominated by jokes or snippets of their life stories.

The Bikeriders is a uniquely packaged “semi-autobiographical” drama about the lives of a motorcycle group in the US, supported by a strong cast. Watching this film feels similar to Nomadland (2020), both of which carry the traditions and culture of the US. It seems that US audiences will appreciate it more than foreign audiences like me. Anarchy and tradition as a way of life are an inseparable part of American history. For me, it is a reflection of the current US (government) whose philosophy is not much different from these riders. The recent special war film, Civil War (2024), is the culmination of the prophecy that could happen in the future. Finally, in the context of film art, The Bikeriders could be an important film for US history, enriching the subgenre with its unique story and storytelling.

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A lifelong cinephile, he cultivated a deep interest in film from a young age. Following his architectural studies, he embarked on an independent exploration of film theory and history. His passion for cinema manifested in 2006 when he began writing articles and film reviews. This extensive experience subsequently led him to a teaching position at the esteemed Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta. From 2003 to 2019, he enriched the minds of students by instructing them in Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory. His scholarly pursuits extended beyond the classroom. In 2008, he published his seminal work, "Understanding Film," which delves into the core elements of film, both narrative and cinematic. The book's enduring value is evidenced by its second edition, released in 2018, which has become a cornerstone reference for film and communication academics across Indonesia. His contributions extend beyond his own authorship. He actively participated in the compilation of the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Volumes 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Further solidifying his expertise, he authored both "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). His passion for film extends to the present day. He continues to provide insightful critiques of contemporary films on, while actively participating in film production endeavors with the Montase Film Community. His own short films have garnered critical acclaim at numerous festivals, both domestically and internationally. Recognizing his exceptional talent, the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival shortlisted his writing for Best Film Criticism (Top 15). His dedication to the field continues, as he currently serves as a practitioner-lecturer for Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts' Independent Practitioner Program.


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