Guitarist Steve Jones plays a shady private detective who – through a series of set piece acts – uncovers the truth about the band. Drummer Paul Cook and bass guitarist Sid Vicious play smaller roles, and the band’s manager, Malcolm McLaren, is featured as “The Embezzler”, the man who manipulates the Sex Pistols. Fugitive train robber Ronnie Biggs, performer Edward Tudor-Pole, sex film star Mary Millington, and actresses Irene Handl and Liz Fraser also make appearances. Singer and frontman Johnny Rotten refused to have anything to do with the film, stating that it was “a pile of rubbish” and “Malcolm’s vision of what he believed – not true in any form”.
The movie tells a stylised fictional account of the formation, rise and subsequent break-up of the band, from the point of view of their then-manager McLaren. In the film, McLaren claims to have created the Sex Pistols (in truth, they were already formed, and Jones and Cook asked him to be their manager), and manipulate them to the top of the music business, using them as puppets to both further his own agenda (in his own words: “Cash from chaos”), and to claim the financial rewards from the various record labels the band were signed to during their brief existence – EMI, A&M, Virgin, and Warner Bros. Records