Sons Of Anarchy Review: On Yer Bike

April 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

SONS OF ANARCHY: Wednesday 28th April, BRAVO, 10pm ALERT ME

Sons Of Anarchy is an American TV drama series about a close-knit Hell’s Angels type motorcycle gang. Although it was renewed for a third series, this second season opener appears as a somewhat slow-paced, clichéd look at gang culture. I was expecting to tune in, and be left wanting to continue with the series. I wasn’t.

Into its second season, there is a new threat to the relative calm that the Sons of Anarchy reign over fictional town Charming. The League of American nationalists, led by businessmen and enforcers, seek to drive away the Sons and gain a grasp on the drug trade they hold. They wish to expand the town from the small boundaries present incumbents like to maintain. Race is also brought into the episode’s mix with the gang being accused of selling to ‘colour’.

Centring on Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller (hunky, head-screwed-on men want to be him, women want to be with him kind of guy) we see how his doubts over the various nefarious actions of the club add dimension to the drinking, gun deals and family dynamics. However, with this opportunity for conflicting plot lines, Sons of Anarchy does not produce compelling viewing.

Although clearly an interesting way of looking at gangculture, the biker theme did not sit comfortably with me. The acting does not cover up some rather hackneyed action scenes, backed up by 80s rock – which all makes for the look of a spoof or a bad Steven Seagal film.

Apart from a harrowing rape scene towards the end, I was rarely grabbed or affected by Sons of Anarchy. The script is rather tired, as are the ideas and plot devices. On display in unashamed clarity are the same clichés you’ve heard from any other gang related film or show: one liners like, ‘NOBODY threatens Sam Crow’, gang members returning from prison to a debaucherous welcome and cold-blooded killing.

This is all fine and great if it’s entertaining or thrilling, but Sons of Anarchy just isn’t. If you compare it to the likes of Mad Men, which also relies on a tight knit group of peers, there’s so much more substance and subtlety. Not to mention the look and sound of the thing. Anarchy’s denim, leather and obvious rock soundtrack don’t match up to the suave, sophistication and classic look of Mad Men. The latter also has a script to back its appearance up.

I just feel, with the angle of a Hell’s Angel type of gang warfare, the makers of Sons of Anarchy have missed out on a fresh approach. Instead of capitalising on unique characters, atmosphere and plot – they’ve made a rather bland, grunting gang thriller. This is certainly one to miss, unless you like gawping at Harley Davidsons.

OntheBox says:

Hello Robert

I was aware it was based on Hamlet, as a quick scan of wikipedia will tell you, but I’m afraid using Shakespeare doesn’t make something intrinsically of worth. TV production would be a lot easier if this were the case.

Love, Mr. Ford.

Rob says:

Oh dear Mr Ford – that ‘tired’ plot you’re so critical of, it’s actually quite a famous one … a bit of research would have told you that the core storyline of Sons Of Anarchy is based on Hamlet (written by some bloke called Shakespeare I think) …