Film review: ‘1%’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built for Speed’

Aussie outlaw bikie movie 1% plays like Sons of Anarchy fan fiction but with very transparent references to Macbeth and Of Mice and Men. While at times raw and visceral, this film isn’t the convincingly rugged urban drama for which writer Matt Nable and director Stephen McCallum appear to be aiming.

The film stars Ryan Corr as Paddo, the second in command of the Copperheads, a bikie gang in an unnamed Australian city. He’s taken the reins while club President Knuck (Matt Nable) is in prison. Knuck’s release, however, triggers an inevitable and bloody power struggle.

This film suffers from many of the problems that have afflicted Australian films for years. First is an underdone script with a story that fails to grip the audience and simply runs through the predictable motions of an alpha male battle for supremacy. Also, there’s too much shouty acting which means the film is too often shrill rather than intense.

At times 1% hits the mark and this is usually when Matt Nable is on screen as the highly intimidating and pathologically violent Knuck. As he does in just about every role, Nable inhabits the character and gives him a palpable sense of menace. Corr does a reasonable job in what is essentially the Charlie Hunnam Sons of Anarchy role but it’s not a particularly compelling performance. Abbey Lee delivers a memorable turn as his ambitious and manipulative girlfriend Katrina although she’s a very obvious Lady Macbeth figure. Simone Kessell is also impressive as Knuck’s long-suffering but tough as nails wife Hayley. Josh McConville plays Paddo’s intellectually disabled brother Skink who’s the catalyst for many events in the film. He is essentially a Lenny from Of Mice and Men character and should have been the film’s tragic centre but he doesn’t generate the necessary emotion and his fate is a little too predictable. The other main gang members only make fleeting appearances so their roles in the story lack the necessary impact.

The film does touch on a couple of interesting themes such as the confused and often repulsive nature of male bonding and acceptance rituals and the contradictory nature of mateship where homophobia and homoeroticism intertwine although it doesn’t explore these ideas in great depth. Oddly, the film doesn’t have much to say about the world of bikie gangs and their place in society overall and there’s remarkably little footage of people riding motorbikes. On a technical level the film is competently constructed but at times displays TV production values with an unremarkable visual style and action mostly confined to a few interior settings.

There are some impressively brutal moments in 1% but lacking either the gleeful anarchy of Ozploitation films or the production values of Hollywood, it doesn’t have the impact it should.

Nick’s rating: **1/2

Genre: Bikie film/ crime drama.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Stephen MacCallum.

Release date: 4th Oct 2018.

Running time: 93 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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