‘The Bikeriders’ and Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’: Exploring Surprising Similarities

Jeff Nichols’s latest film, ‘The Bikeriders’, has stormed onto screens with a cast featuring Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, and Tom Hardy. The plot centres around Comer’s character Kathy, who is interviewed by photojournalist Danny (Mike Faist) about her life as the wife of a member of an outlaw motorcycle club. With standout performances and a clever narrative structure, ‘The Bikeriders’ emerges as a gripping character study, delving into the stifling confines of masculinity. 

It portrays how men, grappling with feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability, erect emotional barriers that often manifest in violence. The film’s exploration of motorcycle club subculture serves as a broader commentary on male disillusionment and aimlessness, drawing thematic parallels to Martin Scorsese’s iconic gangster film, ‘Goodfellas’.

Also Read: ‘The Bikeriders’ Review: Time to Rev Up The Drama

The Bikeriders Goodfellas
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Similar to many films depicting outlaw lifestyles, ‘The Bikeriders’ initially glamorizes the allure of joining a motorcycle club, akin to the appeal seen in films like Drive with its iconic scorpion jacket. Butler’s character, Benny, epitomizes this charismatic archetype, enhancing the club’s mystique and allure. His conflict between loyalty to the club and his relationship with Kathy underscores the film’s exploration of male identity under pressure. 

‘The Vandals’, inspired by Johnny (Tom Hardy) and bonded through shared loneliness and disenchantment, seek camaraderie and purpose within their group, albeit amidst escalating violence and legal troubles.

The Bikeriders Goodfellas
Image Courtesy: IMDb

The narrative trajectory of ‘The Bikeriders’ mirrors themes from ‘Goodfellas’, particularly in its portrayal of Kathy’s struggle akin to Karen’s (Lorraine Bracco) in Scorsese’s film. Both characters grapple with the allure of their partners’ criminal lives versus the personal toll it exacts. However, unlike Karen’s fate, Kathy ultimately succeeds in reclaiming Benny, albeit with uncertain prospects for their future happiness. 

The film critiques traditional masculinity and confronts the repercussions of unchecked male aggression, ultimately offering Benny’s emotional journey as a beacon of hope. His cathartic release and the decision to leave the club behind signify a path towards genuine fulfilment and a departure from the destructive cycles perpetuated by the Vandals.

The Bikeriders Goodfellas
Image Courtesy: Prime Videos

In essence, ‘The Bikeriders’ not only parallels the narrative beats of ‘Goodfellas’ but also engages deeply with contemporary notions of masculinity, illustrating the transformative power of acknowledging vulnerability over the facade of toughness.

–Farheen Ali