During Knuck’s (Matt Nable) incarceration, Paddo (Ryan Corr) has guided The Copperheads through a profitable period, strengthening the outlaw motorcycle clubs assets and growing the membership. However with the club’s president’s return imminent, Paddo is drawn into an arrangement with a rival club to save his brother’s (Josh McConville) life. As he attempts to persuade Knuck of the merit of the plan, Knuck’s wife (Simone Kessell) tries to convince the old president to reassert his dominance, triggering a battle for control of the club.
A gritty crime story, 1% is harsh and submersed in the genre, bringing us something that is at times hard to watch due to the violence. It is also very stylised in its approach, not in a way to glamorise the lifestyle, but rather to make something very Shakespearean out of Nable’s script. Clad Hamlet or Macbeth in jeans and slap a Bikie patch on their jacket, and you can’t help but think that they would get the lay of the land very quickly. For all its stripper poles, rape, meth and Harleys – 1% is about power and family, something The Bard was very familiar with. 1% may pile on one too many of these devious twists for the ending to truly be satisfying, instead of mining the emotional impact in the aftermath of the carnage that it has wrought, but it does make for a solid basis for drama.
In this regard Ryan Corr and Matt Nable make good mileage from being pitted against each other. Corr as the thoughtful planner and natural leader, while Nable projects raw brutal alpha dominance (tied in with Knuck’s inability to accept himself). Yet it is the secondary cast that really shifts the proceedings, pushing these two figures towards conflict. Both Abbey Lee and Simone Kessell get to channel their own Lady Macbeth, as they are forced to manipulate their partners to gain agency in the hyper macho world they are submersed in. Josh McConville is relegated to a plot device, a mere hapless fool of fate, destined to be a cause of entropy rather than a helping influence. Aaron Pederson serves a similar function, but brings a perverse pleasure to the role, seeming more an agent of mischief, as suggested by the devil on his gang’s patch and his puckish laughter.
A handsome locally made debut from director Stephen McCallum, 1% will have appeal to fans of Sons of Anarchy, but its harsh subject matter and brutal portrayal might be difficult for some viewers to get over.