The selling point with this biker flick is that the unkempt guys with bad attitudes are the real Hell’s Angels. How that was supposed to be a selling point eludes me since the only thing I learned about Sonny Barger and his Hell’s Angles from this movie is that they drink a lot of beer, smart off to authority figures, don’t practice much in the way of motorcycle safety, and are easily duped by outsiders.
I don’t recall seeing anything in the way of real drug use, cheap biker sex, cussing or any violent crime sprees. The only questionable conduct they engaged in always involved protecting a fellow biker and us guys who spend the weekend on our hogs know that’s no sin.
Even when Tramp sold his woman to one of the guys duping him for a mostly empty pack of smokes, it was treated fairly nonchalantly. And besides, she wanted to be sold!
I don’t know if all this taming down of the Hell’s Angels was because Sonny Barger saw this as some type of propaganda tool to make his crew look good, but how are you able to claim you’re anti-authority and outside the mainstream when you’re busy making movies?
How does getting your make up put on, sitting around waiting for a take to be set up, and memorizing lines jibe with being wild and free and living to ride and riding to live and all that road monkey jive?
Of course, the absurdity of the Hell’s Angels getting involved with a movie merely to get themselves over as freedom loving rebels wouldn’t even be an issue if their movie was any good. But it isn’t. In fact, it turns out to be quite boring as well as being fairly crudely made.
From badly choreographed and shot fight sequences, to interminable scenes of motorcycles riding around in the desert and on the streets, to sissy music that no self-respecting biker would ever be caught listening to, all the way to a story so dunderheaded on so many levels, you can’t help but wonder if it was conceived by the Hell’s Angels after many, many cases of the Olympia beer they seemed to favor when they weren’t also favoring Coors and Budweiser.
Wes and Chuck are a pair of half brothers who are always looking for some kicks. Their latest scam involves robbing Caesar’s Palace of $600,000 and using the unwitting Hell’s Angels to help them pull it off.
Wes and Chuck disguise themselves as bikers, wreck one of their bikes so that one of their legs is hurt and get an in with the Angels who being the Good Samaritans they are, immediately rush to the injured biker’s aid.
Once back at the Angels’ clubhouse, Wes and Chuck convince them to go on a ride out to Las Vegas where Wes and Chuck will secretly use the bikers as a distraction while they hit Caesar’s.
By the time they get to Vegas, this biker chick named Betsy has attached herself to the two brothers and there’s small talk about how she ran away when she was fifteen and how she wonders what she’s going to do with her life and all sorts of stuff that women like to prattle on about while you’re busy scheming to knock off a casino.
She wants to go the casino with them, but they tell her no and head off to make their score. She hitchhikes her way there and once the heist has been pulled off, is able to parlay her knowledge of the heist to ride along with the two after Sonny tells them to get lost.
Sonny kicks them out because they just didn’t fit in, but it takes the local sheriff to tell Sonny they were had by these two con men and this sets Sonny and the boys off into the desert after them.
After the heist has been completed (it wasn’t very convincing or elaborate and required that a guy being interrogated by security be held in the same room where all the money was laying around and being counted) the movie goes from borderline-lame straight into dullsville, man!
It’s just a bunch of guys riding around in the desert until they run into each other as well as the expected falling out between the two brothers because of the psychotically co-dependent Betsy.
Years of repressed anger between Wes and Chuck boil to the surface and it isn’t long before they’re rolling around in the desert, exchanging fake looking and fake sounding punches. I don’t spend a lot of time hiding out in the desert so maybe I don’t understand its size, but is it really small enough that Sonny and his boys could just ride around out there until they get to a spot, decide to wait and lo and behold, here come the three people they’re looking for?
Hell’s Angels ’69 is an action-impaired non thrill ride that the Angels don’t add anything to beyond a series of stilted line readings. Sonny’s delivery in particular can be charitably described as robotically laconic.
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