Danny Boyle’s new series on the Sex Pistols, reviewed by Christopher Stevens

Pistol (Disney+)

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How Mrs Vivienne Westwood survived the 1970s without repeated bankruptcy is a mystery.

As director Danny Boyle put it, in his punk biopic The Pistol (Disney+), Westwood’s Chelsea store exists only to give shoplifters a decent blow.

Obscene logo T-shirts, safety pins and jackets dripping from chains, bondage pants: they almost all walked out the door on their own. If Viv does catch a thief, he might end up joining boyfriend Malcolm McLaren’s band.

Scene Steal: Anson Boone as Johnny Rotten Pictured: Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Anson Boone as John Lyndon, Toby Wallace as Steve Jones

Scene Steal: Anson Boone as Johnny Rotten Pictured: Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Anson Boone as John Lyndon, Toby Wallace as Steve Jones

Pistol revels in its absurd romantic history. In this retelling of the Sex Pistols Steve Jones memoir, every petty crime and drug-fueled escapade gains legendary status.

Toby Wallace plays Jones, a lively Londoner, a lenient boy nicknamed “Sly Dodge.” His wit and charm were his only compensation for a miserable, abusive childhood.

The first time we meet him, he breaks into the Hammersmith Odeon after David Bowie’s farewell gig as Ziggy Stardust in 1973 – not to see spiders from Mars, but to steal their gear. Then he and pal Paul Cook hotline a sports car with a load of beer and uppers around his neck, and take the little ones on a high-speed chase.

If those cliché slang sounds a little fake, so does the script. It was apparently written by someone who learned English by watching episodes of The Sweeney.

Sex Pistols (LR): John Joseph Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, drummer Paul Cook, bass guitarist Sid Vicious, born Johnny Rotten John Simon Ritchie, guitarist Steve Jones, member of punk band Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols (LR): John Joseph Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, drummer Paul Cook, bass guitarist Sid Vicious, born Johnny Rotten John Simon Ritchie, guitarist Steve Jones, member of punk band Sex Pistols

This is Richard Curtis’s working-class version of London. Instead of Hugh Grant’s floppy edges, we have Johnny Rotten’s spiky Barnett. This is not true love, but true hate.

But that doesn’t matter because Pistol isn’t aimed at those who really remember London in the shabby days of Harold Wilson’s government.

This is music history reimagined for the American market. Last year, Disney+ was a huge success with Peter Jackson’s eight-hour Beatles documentary “The Return,” and they seem to want to build on it — despite the fact that pistols and Beatles fans exchanged for each other when punk exploded despise. They all sound great these days, but that’s because the alternative is Ed Sheeran.

Every petty crime and drug-fueled escapade gains legendary status in this retelling of the Sex Pistols Steve Jones memoir

Every petty crime and drug-fueled escapade gains legendary status in this retelling of the Sex Pistols Steve Jones memoir

Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who was really in love, had the best lines, parodying a McLaren speech. “Rogues like you excite me,” he told Jones and Cook, who describes himself as the manager of their band The Swankers.

The name had to go away, so Malcolm named them Kutie Jones And His Sex Pistols. He presented Jones with a Gibson guitar, which he liberated from his original punk protege, the New York Doll.

The doll didn’t last. “You’re trying to dress them up as Chinese Communists, pets,” Westwood (Talulah Riley) reminds him. ‘It doesn’t suit their music. or their race.

McLaren, a true carnal greedy, is in for a lighthearted treat here. A documentary about his treatment of other behaviors, notably Bow Wow Wow with their 14-year-old frontman Annabella Lwin, raises disturbing questions.

Here, he gets away with a mischievous smile and fluent small talk, as he does in real life. When Jones was about to be sentenced for burglary, did he really stride into the Crown Court wearing a bowler hat and sweetly let the judge get a suspended sentence?

Who cares if it’s not true? Pistols are about mythology, which means wrapping stories with celebrities.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Talulah Riley as McLaren and Westwood

Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Talulah Riley as McLaren and Westwood

Soon-to-be star of The Pretenders Chrissie Hynde (Sydney Chandler) serves behind the counter at Sex. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see Siouxsie Sioux, Billy Idol and Richard Branson too.

Anson Boon threatens to steal every scene, though, plays John Lydon – from where we see him deface Pink Floyd with “I hate…” From the moment he wore the T-shirt, he was a hypnotizing, malevolent presence, nicknamed Johnny Rotten by the band because of the nicotine teeth on his tombstone. Leighton pretended to laugh it off, then glared from the other side of the door.

Not only was he resentful—a product of resentment from the dysfunctional class system of the 1970s—Leighton was festering with disgust. When he screams that he wants to “destroy-woo-woo,” he means he wants to end everything – himself, the country, the band, the whole smelly land.

Insecure and lonely among band members who differ from his self-ripping rage, Lydon wants his teammate Sid to join them on bass. Sid (Louis Partridge) has a girlfriend named Nancy (Emma Appleton). The relationship was doomed from the start. Pistols celebrate romance and glorify bad luck. It was Johnny Rotten who screamed: “No future, you have no future!”

Pistols to play as a six-part set on Disney+ starting tomorrow

Danny Boyle’s Pistol: Who Plays Who in Biopic

Incredible: Louis portrayed as Sid Vicious

Real Rock Singers: Sid Vicious in 1978

Incredible: Louis Partridge, character left, bassist Sid Vicious, right, 1978

Wow: Anson is portrayed as Johnny Rotten

Real rock singer: Johnny Rotten, real name John Lydon, 1976

Wow: Anson Boon (left) and Johnny Rotten (right) in 1976

Role: Toby as Steve Jones

Real Rock Singers: Steve Jones in 1978

Characters: Toby Wallace (left) and guitarist Steve Jones (right, 1978)

Role: Jacob as drummer Paul Cook

Real Rock Singers: Paul Cook in 1978

Characters: Jacob Slater (left) and drummer Paul Cook (right, 1978)

Betrayal: Toby Wallace as Steve Jones, Emma Appleton as Nancy Spengen

Doomed: Miss Spengone and Vicious

In a photo released from the Pistol episode, actress Emma Appleton, who plays Nancy, is seen arm-in-arm with guitarist Steve Jones (left).Jones claims to have had sex with Nancy but it was because of her relationship with Sid (as in 1978) so she will always be remembered

Exciting: Iris Law to follow in father Jude's acting footsteps, making her screen debut as Soo Catwoman in Danny Boyle's pistol drama

Iconic look: Soo Lucas, self-proclaimed Soo Catwoman, is known for her signature 1976 hairstyle that looks like cat ears

Exciting: Iris Law (left) will follow in her father Jude’s acting footsteps in her screen debut as Soo Catwoman (right) on the Sex Pistols TV series

The man behind the band: Thomas Brodie-Sangster (pictured) will take on the role of Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren

Real-life counterpart: Malcolm in 1978

The man behind the band: Thomas Brodie-Sangster (left) will take on the role of Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren (right, 1978)

Actress Sydney Chandler plays rocker Chrissie Hynde

Actress Sydney Chandler plays rocker Chrissie Hynde

Actress Sydney Chandler (left) as rocker Chrissie Hynde (right)

Role: Maisie plays Jordan in upcoming FX series

Famous: Jordan shot in 1977

Role: Maisie turned model and actress Pamela Rooke aka “Jordan” for her role in the upcoming FX series