Review – Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms – Episode 3
Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms – Ten – 8:30pm Tuesday – AUS
Bikie Wars is one of those ‘can’t fail’ ideas for a television series that fails simply through a lack of effort. Basing a mini-series on a sub-culture of Australia that fascinates a lot of people and stacking the cast with an endless sea of familiar faces are really the only truly great decisions that have been made in this production; everything else about the show is a hedged bet. Bikie Wars, like other ‘can’t fails’ ideas like setting an Underbelly series in the 20s or resurrecting the bushranger adventure series with Wild Boys, is afraid to take any risks; no television show about bikies should feel this safe or this soft.
I mentioned last week that the biggest problem with Bikie Wars is that it’s trying to faithfully recreate a true story. The show knows that all of this ends in a massacre and so each week we see events happen that will inevitably contribute to the deaths of seven people. This ticking-off-the-events-as-really-happened is an issue because these characters aren’t living their lives. These characters are lemmings running towards a cliff. In real life nobody would have known that the tension between Jock’s boys and Snoddy’s crew would lead to the Milperra Massacre, yet every scene in the show is layered thick with a sense of dread – as if all the characters have seen scripts of future episodes.
Not helping matters is the fact nobody on this show seems to do anything. These lads would have been going about their lives with the tension between the clubs simmering underneath the surface but that’s not what we see. Every waking minute of their lives is devoted to staring at members of the opposing club or talking about how things are falling apart or engaging in another slow motion party montage. The one question that rattles around in my head when watching this show is: what do these bikie clubs actually do? They sure seem to do a lot of training for fights, and they occasionally punch some people, but what do they do? Bikie Wars seems to have no interest in exploring this world and it hurts the show. We’re supposed to care about the club splitting in two but as far as we’ve seen all that means is that there will now be two slow motion party montages instead of one.
That great cast I mentioned earlier continues to grow with a few more familiar faces popping up in this episode. Todd Lasance has dropped by to play Kiddo, who is apparently a teenager despite being played by the 25 year old Lasance. Also joining Jock’s crew is Manu Bennett who plays Crixus in Spartacus; Bennett only gets one line in this episode but it was good to see him in amongst the pool of underused actors that make up this show. I understand that filling the cast out with familiar faces is to give us an easy shorthand in helping to keep track of this many characters. There’s no need to really get to know these characters when we can spot them and go ‘okay so guy from Wild Boys is with Jock and guy from The Straits is with Snod, got it.’ The flipside of this is that I can’t remember seeing a supporting cast this strong be given this little to do.
This week’s episode moved at a brisk enough pace to keep things interesting – the show doesn’t tend to get bogged down in giant exposition spewing sessions like Underbelly does, there’s a fair chunk of exposition dished out in every episode but it doesn’t bog the show down. This week Snod formed the Bandidos and burnt his Comanchero colours and Jock got married, and that was about as far as things moved. Bikie Wars is just a slow burn until the inevitable massacre and because of that it’s a bit of let down if not completely unwatchable. Callan Mulvay continues to do good work as the cool-as-ice Snods and he’s the main reason to watch the show. The other reason to watch is that it’s half over and if you’ve come this far you may as well stick around to the sure-to-be explosive end even if everything so far has been kind of a drag.
Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?
This review is part of Change The Channel’s episode by episode coverage of Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms. The full list of episode reviews can be found under Series.