Quicksilver (1986)


After hearing about a 1980s bike-messenger movie starring Kevin Bacon I had to watch it. Swiftly added to Netflix queue and patiently waited for. On saturday night Tracie and I settled down to watch it and here are my thoughts. I’m not going to do a review, because the movie’s terrible!

Firstly, I wasn’t aware that the messenger culture was as old as the mid-eighties. Presumably the creators of this movie had similar motivation as those who made the early breakdancing & graffiti movies. They had identified an emerging culture and used it as a backdrop for a story. Looks like they were about 20 years too early! Watching it, I identified primarily geared bikes – at least one Raleigh with what appeared to be a Campagnolo Record Gruppo – but Kevin Bacon’s character’s bike was a Raleigh Track bike of some kind, riding brake-free. It was fascinating to already see many elements of messenger culture on screen in the mid-eighties: cycling caps (obviously! – I had a twinge of pride when the messenger dispatch wore a Gios cap and couldn’t help but point out to my wife: “that’s my bike!”), track-bikes on the street and messenger bags that looked almost no different then they do today.

Hanging out at dispatch

We start the movie with taxi-riding financier Bacon racing against a messenger (on the Raleigh road bike) and this is classic movie rubbish: the rider, recognising the race is on changes gear, but not to a higher gear for more speed, you see him pull the down-tube mounted shifter towards him and he shifts to a lower gear. This would have increased his (already decent) cadence and caused him to reduce speed. I, of course pointed that out only to be shushed by Tracie who really didn’t want me to pull the movie apart. Too late!

More movie convenience later when they have one of those classic lets-have-a-group-trick-demo moment with everyone clapping and cheering in that wonderful movie way. Their track bikes have all magically had their gearing changed from road-riding – replaced with tiny chainrings, crank-arms & cogs for tricks. Presumably they magically change back when it’s time to go back to delivering packages.

My favourite moment was the race between Bacon and Fishbourne. They start the race facing downhill on rather a steep incline. “Wait, isn’t this set in New York? Isn’t Manhattan basically flat? Hold on a minute, that looks a lot like San Francisco!” Later as they’re riding: “Isn’t that Coit tower?” And suddenly they’re back in New York to end the race!

Overall it was a pretty amusing movie that represented cycling well enough. I’d definitely recommend it, even if its only to take a look at Bacon with a moustache!

Quicksilver poster

Quicksilver | Netflix | Amazon | iTunes