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Crossfire Hurricane - Review

Crossfire Hurricane

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CONTRARY to one of the lyrics in one of their seminal songs, audiences should get plenty of Satisfaction from watching Crossfire Hurricane, a documentary designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones.

Directed by Brett Morgan (of The Kid Stays In The Picture and Chicago 10 fame), the film sets out to offer the first comprehensive overview of this iconic band’s career.

But while that’s not strictly true, by virtue of its decision to focus largely on the first 20 years, it is a riveting insight into their formative years that thrives on the mix of rare and often unseen footage and the specially recorded audio commentary of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood.

Newly recorded interviews with Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor also lend the film a fuller and more personal overview from all of the surviving members of the band.
What ensues is a rock ‘n’ roll doc that succeeds in capturing the excitement of hearing the Stones in their prime, as well as the hedonistic tendencies that made them so distinct and dangerous.

It’s interesting to hear Jagger and Richards talk about some of the landmark moments in their career, and especially the most notorious such as the death of Brian Jones and the chaos of their free concert at Altamont (at which Hell’s Angels infamously provided the ‘security’).

Fascinating, too, are their opinions on each other (especially Richards’ drug taking and the constant threat it posed to the band’s survival) as well as their observations on their infamy and place alongside The Beatles.

The concert footage, meanwhile, succeeds in capturing the insanity that often accompanied their gigs, as well as the thrill of seeing and hearing their songs played live.

It would, perhaps, have felt a little more complete had Morgen followed the story through to the present day (where gigs continue to sell out even if their new material carries much less of an impact) or became a little more probing and less reverential.

But in general, his film is a fine tribute to a band that have continually thrived in the face of adversity to earn their status as one of the greatest of all-time. It’s funny, candid and chock full of great music and archive material. You’ll enjoy being caught in this Crossfire Hurricane.

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Certificate: tbc
Running time: 118mins
BBC2 Air Date: November 2012
London Film Festival Date: Thursday, October 19, 2012