What can one say about someone who was as entertaining and enjoyable as Adam Ant; when he and the (second version) Ants came upon these shores in 1980 with “Antmusic” and “Dog Eat Dog”, it was impossible not to get a kick out of those songs. Their look was different; they had a certain charm, style and playfulness about them and they knew how to write a catchy hook. While Ant’s moment in the sun faded by the late ’80’s, I always sing along whenever any of the Ants tracks (or “Friend Or Foe”) comes on the radio.
Over the last five or so years, Adam Ant has found himself unfortunately in the British headlines at times, due to what has been found to be emotional problems (I’m trying my best to be diplomatic and sensitive to what the man has gone through). Somehow, starting in 2012, he decided to try and stage a comeback in England. During this comeback period, filmmaker Jack Bond began filming Mr. Ant as he prepared to do shows, rehearsed with his musicians and basically attempted to give a glimpse into a legend’s desire to ride back into the sunlight.
However, that is not what this film does. Presented as “capturing this true icon’s extraordinary and brave comeback, after years of mental health problems”, it does not. The first major problem I had with this was the lack of coherency. There is no story; a biography – a documentary has to have a story. There is no frame of reference, nor history behind Ant’s career, its downturn and his difficulties leading up to this point so that you have a clear understanding of the how and the why. Second, it’s as if the camera was turned on and that was it – freeform filming of everything Ant says or does, which honestly becomes tedious very quickly. His story – certainly the backstory of what he’s endured over the last few years – is not part of this film since there isn’t any narrative or timeline; here Ant just comes off as a foul mouthed, bitter and rambling once-famous person who (by virtue of this documentary) you don’t have any positive feelings nor can be sympathetic towards. In a word, he comes off as an old punk rocker who has yet to reach some level of maturity.
By having no control over his subject, Bond left this movie to meander – and it does. There’s maybe a moment of Ant talking about mental illness but it’s done in such a naturally one-sided and non-perspective offered way, that you’re not sure who he’s referring to. Seeing him getting a tattoo, trying to get legendary actress Charlotte Rampling to record his song “Wonderful” (his last chart hit in the U.S.) and shopping for anything that looks like a dragoon-type character is neither entertaining nor informative. His conversation with Mark Ronson is about as close as it comes to being interesting; it’s the only time Ant seems to be in control of himself. You get no indication of the man and it’s a shame. His is not a “pretty” story, but it’s one that does have teeth, just by his sheer force of will to re-establish himself. The Blueblack Hussar (Ant’s latest “persona”) is simply a waste of both time and of a charismatic subject.