Sunday, May 9, 2021

BMX Bandits (1983)

Once again Aussie cinema provides us with another treat! BMX Bandits is a slice of 80s fun that proves we were more than up to the task of being America's match! Maybe not in quantity, but in quality? Certainly!

P.J. and Goose are two avid cyclists, who treat Sydney as their personal riding ground. It's fun, but they lament not having a proper bike track. This soon becomes a moot point when their bikes are totalled during a = meeting with local girl Judy. The three become friends, and they boys are deadset on not only getting their own bikes repaired, but finding one for Judy too. To raise money they go cockle fishing, and inadvertently stumble upon a crate full of special walkie-talkies. This lands the trio in hot water, as the crooks who stashed them want them back for a big heist

BMX Bandits is a very enjoyable ride (no pun intended). It shows off 80s era Sydney in all its glory, tells a lighthearted story that's impossible not to enjoy, and always lives up to its title (ok, technically it doesn't since they're not bandits, but you know what I mean!).

Director Brian Trenchard Smith's aim with BMX Bandits was to recreate the old Ealing comedies. I don't think he succeeded, but only in the sense that he created something different instead. This doesn't remind me of the quintessential 1950s British comedies, but instead reminds me firmly of quintessential 80s adventures! It's not often that failing to meet one's goals (if one even sees this as a failure in that regard) still meets with success, but this is one such occasion.

The three main characters are a good bunch, and are written in a believable way. They don't talk like 30 year olds, but they're also not infantilised! Nothing bugged me more as a teen than movies making us act younger than they were, as if they were afraid of writing teenagers as real people. Another thing I appreciate is how Australian the film feels. This is the kind of story that could take place anywhere, but it has enough local touches and behaviours that it feels [completely] unlike your typical American fare.

Something I liked about the story is how the kids handle the crooks. In other movies, the kids would be taking direct action against the gangsters by the second act, which can run the risk of being unrealistic (I mean, in a way beyond the norm), or paints the leads as idiots leaping into danger. Here however it's handled very well. The fight is brought to the teens enough times, and by the time they take direct action, it feels right.

For a while I was afraid the title would be a misnomer, as Judy has no bike, and the boys rides are trashed 5 minutes in! But thankfully they do eventually get some rides, and once they do the movie wastes no time in living up to its title. It may have taken its sweet ass time getting to that point, but BMX Bandits handles its pace and general tone in such a way that this is never more than a lingering worry that gets silenced once the action truly begins. 

The bicycle action here is truly exceptional. It was Trenchard Smith's intention to feature all the biking in unexpected places. I'm glad to say he succeeded! There is no shortage of wacky and wonderful locations the heroes bike through, each unique in their own ways.

The direction is effective, not only in the bicycle choreography, but in the general action beats, and the scenery. The Sydney setting is beautiful, and blue in a way that can sell a thousand tourist ads. It actually managed to make me as a West Aussie jealous!

The actors here all do fun jobs. The three leads all deliver good performances, with James Lugton and Angelo d'Angelo making a nice pair of blokes. I especially liked that young Nicole Kidman girl. I hear good things will come of her, [and you can mark my words they will]. David Argue, John Ley, and Brian Marshall make for amusing villains, playing it just seriously enough but with enough goofiness to never lose sight of the tone.

Overall, BMX Bandits is a great time to be had! While some nogoodniks may make it out like it's a crummy kids' flick, it's much more than that-It's a great kids flick! It's just nice simple fun, and that goes a long way. Oftentimes a nice breezy sit like this is just what you need...

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