Gimme Danger Review

  • 2.5/5
Gimme Danger (2016)

I remember the first time I heard an Iggy Pop song. It was during the opening sequence of Trainspotting. I didn't know the name of the song or who was playing in the background of Renton's opening monologue, but I knew I loved it.

There was this infectious drum beat kicking in at the start and it was then supplemented by a guitar riff that just made you want to move. And then that voice. It wasn't melodious, it wasn't even especially manly - it was just infectious. I was hooked. I had to look this song up and fell in love with it - Lust for Life. Loved the name.

One thing led to another and I had to find this man and eventually his band - and thus I came upon Iggy Pop and The Stooges.

Gimme Danger is by all measures the perfect title for a documentary for The Stooges. Jim Jarmusch - known for his unconventional, flat out weird and yet affecting works seems like the perfect fit to bring the story behind one of rock's most unpredictable bands to life. The proverbial stage is certainly set. However, the documentary falls short of being perfect embodiment of the bad boys of early punk rock in the sense that it does the one thing they tried not to do. It stays conventional.

Now that isn't to say this is a poor documentary. By usual documentary standards it's a fine piece of work. Even though it resorts to the typical documentary trope of talking heads interspaced with vintage footage, the content of the Stooges story is more than enough to carry this documentary on smoothly.

It's got great concert footage from some of the Stooges' iconic concerts at Ann Arbor and Detroit. It also has an informationally exhaustive look at the origins of the American punk rockers that seem sadly conventional by normal rock band standards - there was the typical accidental origin behind the members forming the band to playing countless low key gigs to finally making it big and engaging in superstar levels of hedonism.

Now it's not the story I'm faulting. The fact that their origin story may not be as unique as the band truly was isn't Jim Jarmusch's fault. What is however, is what he chooses to focus on.

The band were widely known as Iggy Pop and the Stooges for good reason. Their front man - Iggy Pop was the real deal. He stole the show. This wasn't your Axl Rose - Guns n Roses-esque limelight hogging kind of deal - this genuinely was Iggy Pop's band. People would firstly come for the man and then the music.

In no ways am I criticizing Jarmusch for highlighting the other members of the band, who deservedly need attention and have their own valuable, entertaining insights. It's just that by focusing on everyone else's experience to that degree, the mystique of Iggy is lost. The same mystique that made The Stooges one of the greatest performers of all time.

We don't know the origins behind Iggy's infectiously confounding dance moves or how he came up with his stage name and the details of his behind the scenes antics - all the things that elevated him from simple rockstar to cult like status. This feels like a documentary about The Stooges with a guest appearance by Iggy, when in reality, the band was the exact opposite.

Again to reiterate, Gimme Danger is not a bad documentary by any standards. It's just that for a band and a frontman notorious for being unconventional and controversial in all respects, the documentary is rather tame effort. It's less 'Search and Destroy' than Let's Discover More.