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Sometimes movies disappoint us by failing to live up to our expectations for them. Others, they disappoint us through sheer badness alone. Stephen McCallum’s “1%” disappoints us through wasted promise, threatening to take an interesting angle on biker gang film tropes before totally chickening out and playing the hits instead. If you’ve ever seen a season of “Sons of Anarchy,” you more or less know what you’re going to get out of “1%,” and if “Sons of Anarchy” is your cup of vodka and orange juice, then you’ll probably enjoy McCallum’s work on its own terms. But it’s nothing short of frustrating to see genre movies stick with what we know works instead of trying anything new, and in that regard “1%” is an entirely frustrating experience.
McCallum’s premise is Shakespearean in nature; the film is set in the world of an outlaw biker club, hence the title, “1%” being a slang appellation for lawlessness itself. The club’s president, Knuck (Matt Nable, McCallum’s screenwriter), is on the cusp of finishing his three year prison sentence, ready to return home and take the reins back from his aide de camp and surrogate son Mark (Ryan Corr). Mark’s been running the club in Knuck’s absence, seeking ways to make the gang legit — turns out he’d rather be part of the 99% than the 1% — so of course Knuck’s imminent freedom poses problems for Mark, for his power-hungry wife, Katrina (Abbey Lee), for Mark’s handicapped brother, Skink (Josh McConville), and for the club itself. Knuck wants to return to doing things the way they’ve always been done. Mark mostly wants to protect Skink. We want to see McCallum’s fascination with performed masculinity go literally anywhere, but it doesn’t.
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