Pistol review: The Sex Pistols were active for 3 years, and a lot occurred to them during that brief, dazzling flash of late-’70s upheaval. Pistol (Disney+) feels strangely fast and loose in comparison.
Danny Boyle directs this frantic but sloppy six-part dramatization of the Sex Pistols‘ narrative, portrayed primarily through Steve Jones.
Craig Pearce, a favourite of Baz Luhrmann, adapted it from Jones’s biography, Lonely Boy, which emphasizes the Jones-heavy perspective.
Jonesy is known in the series, and his awful, traumatic past and existence as a teenage thief are the focus of the first episode.
Jonesy gets caught attempting to steal from Sex, the shop he and Vivienne Westwood own. While McLaren sloganeers, Westwood’s character gets brought out to explain things. When Johnny Rotten finally shows up and spends an episode or two trying to create lyrics, he speaks in fragments of what would eventually become lines from their number of songs.
Rotten is introduced throughout an episode, and when he does, it’s with a bang.
The camera follows him upstairs to his bedsit, hovering at his feet until he meets that John Lydon glare.
Anson Boon is a snooty cross between Artful Dodger, the Child Catcher, and an animated rodent in his portrayal of him. Lydon has been a vocal opponent of Pistol since its start, and his former bandmates took him to court to argue that they had the right to use the band’s music in it. Lydon described the trailer as “a middle-class fantasy.”
Being dismissed by Lydon must be the ultimate publicity coup for a series about the power of an image.
On the other hand, Young Rotten does not do badly; after all, he is a comic character. As a fan stalks Rotten with a sack full of nasty truths, some other episode chooses to hang itself around the inspiration for the song Bodies.
It’s a gruesomely intriguing subject, but it feels odd to devote so much time to it when there are only 6 episodes to tell the complete story of the Pistols’ origin and burnout. Similarly, a romance between Chrissie Hynde and Jonesy is given a lot of attention.
Jonesy, on the other hand, is battling his demons. It’s a significant demand of the audience to accept equal parts emotion and nihilism and expect it to work.
The other is Maisie Williams, who plays the late Jordan and has the favourite scene in the series, when she parades through her seaside hometown in nothing but clear PVC, much to the chagrin of the stuffy commuters and passers-by.
Her character is a representation of what might have been. Rather than telling, she demonstrates what punk did.