The Godfathers of Hardcore (2017) is a documentary that showcases the band Agnostic Front. While vocalist Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma are compelling subjects, director Ian McFarland doesn’t nail the delivery of the material. The documentary doesn’t have any sense of structure, which makes it feel a little off and frustrating. It’s possible, given the nature of Hardcore music, that this film isn’t supposed to have an organized framework…but a clear narrative arc is present, albeit poorly constructed.
The Godfathers of Hardcore manages to be an engaging documentary despite the lack of structure
The cinematography of the film is pretty solid, and the performance pieces are often shot from the perspective of the drummer. McFarland places the camera on the stage looking at the back of Miret and into the massive crowd, which looks great and gives a cool perspective compared to the archival footage of their older performances. Though the set up of these shots is random, they appear early on, and they’re reused at multiple points in the film.
McFarland is trying to tell the history and influence of the New York-based Hardcore band that has spanned over thirty years, while also giving the viewer a look at the individuals within the band. The natural story arc that arises involves Miret having a heart attack that the doctors can’t quite explain the cause of. Despite this concern, Miret’s personality won’t allow him to sit idly by and not do what he loves. If the film had started with this idea and then flashed back to the forming of the band, showcasing how Miret finally joined and developed the bond of family and friendship that formed with Vinnie over the years, followed by concluding with their return to the stage and touring after Miret’s heart attack, it would have been much more satisfying. Instead, the movie jumps around with no real sense of rhyme or reason and often feels too stream of consciousness to be thoroughly enjoyable.
The Godfathers of Hardcore still manages to be interesting and informative. I knew relatively nothing about the band and have already listened to some of their catalog. In that way, I’m glad this movie was made, but I wish it was a little stronger. My 14-year-old daughter loved it though and was totally captivated by the guys and their stories. She is right that both Miret and Stigma are compelling figures with big personalities. Despite that, I give the film the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.