“If we’d grown up in Australia, BMX Bandits would have been our Goonies”
“BMX Bandits” takes place in Sydney, Australia. At the start of the film, men wearing masks crash the van they’re driving in through the front window of a bank. They get away with over one hundred thousand dollars in cash. The leader (Bryan Marshall) of the crime organization is interested in an even bigger score. In order to aid with the next robbery, he has had walkie talkies shipped in from America. The men will be able to use the walkie talkies to monitor the police alerts in order to stay ahead of law enforcement.
Goose (James Lugton) and P.J. (Angelo D’Angelo) are best friends and love nothing more than riding their BMX bikes. Their lives are about to intersect with Judy, who is portrayed by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours). She is working at a supermarket and gathering shopping carts to wheel back into the store. She is being bothered by a boy she calls creep (Brian Sloman). The creep separates a few of the carts, which go rolling into the parking lot. Goose and P.J. crash their bikes into the carts, which cause the bikes to get damaged. Judy’s boss (Brian Best) gets angry because of the carts rolling into the parking lot, even though Goose and P.J. tell him that it was not her fault. He is unsympathetic and fires her.
Judy was working at the supermarket to save up for a BMX bike. She loses her only source of income when she gets fired. Goose and P.J can barely afford the drink they buy her at the arcade, let alone the costs to fix their bikes. The trio devise a plan. They’re going to sell fish they get from traps. The problem is, when they check the traps, there is not enough fish. While checking one of the traps, they pull up a large package. They have no idea as to its contents.
The package turns out to be the walkie talkies. While heading back to shore, they are passed by a boat headed in the other direction. Whitey (David Argue) and Moustache (John Ley), two members of the crime crew are in the other boat and spot the trio.
The trio decide to sell the walkie talkies to get the money for their BMX bikes. First, however, they test them. The trio are heard by a constable (Peter Browne), an officer (Linda Newton), and the police sergeant (Bill Brady). They shouldn’t be on the police frequency. The trio now have the criminals and the cops to contend with. Will they be able to safely thwart both and get the money they need for their BMX bikes?
Trivia buffs take note: The film was originally released in America under the title “Short Wave.” Nicole Kidman learned to ride a BMX bike for the film after she beat out over two hundred other actresses to get the part. Three top BMX experts performed all of the stunts shown throughout the film. The stunt person for Nicole Kidman was an eighteen year old teenage boy who wore a wig. While filming, Kidman sprained her ankle, but it was during a scene that had nothing to do with bike riding.
“BMX Bandits” was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith (Dead End Drive-In) and written by Patrick Edgeworth (Blue Heelers) based on a screenplay by Russell Hagg (Water Rats). The film premiered in Australia on December 29, 1983. Parts adventure, crime, and drama the film has a runtime of 88 minutes.
I originally saw the movie on HBO years ago. I decided to give it a re-watch out of curiosity, because I knew it was Nicole Kidman’s first film. “BMX Bandits” has some fun chase sequences and the trio performed well together. This is a film that parents can watch with their children because it is harmless on every level.