Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms
runaway success of shows like Underbelly are anything to go by,
we Australians must love our crime-related dramas. Well now Network Ten
has got in on the action, teaming up with production company Screentime
to bring us Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms.
tells the story of the Comancheros motorcycle club, which is run out of
western Sydney by blustery Scotsman Jock Ross (Matt Nable.) Jock and his
men are out riding one weekend when they encounter a drifter named
Spencer (Callan Mulvey.) Seeing something in the loner, Ross takes
Spencer under his wing, and before long he is inducted into the club and
given the nickname of ‘Snoddy’ Snodgrass. Snoddy’s intelligence and his
powers of persuasion are enough to ingratiate him with the club, but
they also lead to tension between himself and Jock. Alliances form, and
the club splits into two separate chapters, with Snoddy forced away from
his former friends. Confused and embittered, Snoddy takes on the colours
of another club: The Bandidos. With hostilities between the two groups
on the rise, it becomes clear that only one thing will settle the feud:
A final and bloody showdown.
takes a very stylistic approach to its storytelling, much like
Underbelly and its numerous spin-offs. Slow-motion shots are used
frequently, a thumping rock soundtrack accompanies the action, and the
bikes themselves are shown in the most glamorous light. With these kinds
of techniques, the producers always ran the risk of glorifying the
horrible and criminal acts that took place, but thankfully this hasn’t
happened. There’s plenty of violence on display, but no good is ever
shown to come from it. Each and every one of the characters is well
fleshed out. Even the most sadistic of them is shown to have a human
side, and there are no true villains among the cast of characters. The
real villain is pride. Pride is what forces the clubs apart, and what
causes former mates to stare each other down before the final, bloody
confrontation- a confrontation that none of them truly want.
heart, Bikie Wars is a character drama, and it demands some strong
performances from all of the actors involved. Matt Nable is totally
convincing as Jock Ross, effortlessly displaying all of the conflicting
sides of the character. But some of the fringe characters aren’t as
good: Todd Lasance’s ‘Kiddo,’ for example, tries to convince us he’s a
real bikie by looking permanently angry and putting on an artificially
deep voice, but it doesn’t really come off.
episodes, the series never outstays its welcome, but there are a couple
of issues with pacing. Some story arcs, such as the relationship between
Snoddy and Lee (Maeve Dermody) feel too spontaneous, and would have
benefited from a longer germination period. Snoddy’s trip to America,
whereby he meets with the Bandidos and sows the seeds of creating a new
club in Australia, is all but glossed over. This is understandable given
budget and time constraints, but you feel as if that crucial part of the
story could have received a little more attention.
every shot is thoughtfully framed, and rich with symbolism or irony.
Whether the camera shows flames reflecting in Jock’s glasses as he
stares someone down, or a ’safety first’ sign that’s just been blown
apart by a shotgun, there’s always something interesting happening on
screen. In the end, the performances and attention to detail are enough
to carry the show.
takes place in a variety of settings and lighting conditions, from the
searing midday sun in a quarry to the darkness of back alleys and
nightclubs. The picture looks crisp and detailed throughout. Music is
constant, and varied. Creepy sound effects are used during the more
violent and shocking scenes, whereas the lighter moments are accompanied
by rock anthems from the period.
The Making Of: A short documentary
which covers costume design, location scouting, and set design. All
of the key actors speak about their parts and experiences with the
Webisodes: A series of shorts, each
delving into a different area of the production. A lot of this
repeats in the ‘Making of’ documentary.
in Arms’ tells us that mateship and loyalty, those two quintessentially
Australian ideals, can have a dark side. Some good performances and
slick production values make this a series that’s big on style, big on
heart, and with an important message to tell.