METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER: 3 ½ STARS
“Metallica: Through the Never” is a cinematic primer for the bone crunching oeuvre of the heaviest of heavy metal thrash bands.
The concert film—shot by Nimrod Antal in Vancouver and Edmonton—showcases three decades of their uncompromising music. In front of thousands of devil horn throwing fans they deliver a blistering sixteen-song set that includes “The Ecstasy Of Gold,” “Creeping Death,” “…And Justice For All” and their biggest mainstream hit “Enter Sandman”
The concert footage is a turn-it-up-to-eleven experience with one of the best touring bands working today.
But it doesn’t stop there.
While rhythm guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich (who makes some of the strangest faces ever captured on film), lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo rock out on stage a surreal parallel story unfolds on the streets outside the arena.
When Trip, a roadie for the band played by Dane DeHaan. is sent on a simple mission across town to retrieve a briefcase for the band, he discovers a terrifying post apocalyptic world where citizens have gone wild, frontier justice has taken hold and a masked man on horseback leads a band of headbanging anarchists.
The story is played mostly without dialogue and slices in and out through the concert footage. The story doesn’t add up to much, although DeHaan’s wordless performance is compelling. With just his expressive face and body he artfully conveys the confusion and fear felt by his character.
It is within his performance that the reason for the dystopian story becomes clear. Like “Thriller” or other extended music videos, the narrative is a clever way to bring the band’s favorite themes—like misuse of justice—to life or to personify the feelings of anger, rage and desperation that burn through the music. Many of Hetfield’s lyrics deal with nightmares, war and fear all topics covered off in Trip’s terrifying journey.
It’s a clever twist on the regular concert film, but ultimately the elaborately staged “Mad Max” scenario doesn’t add much to the understanding of Metallica’s music.
“Metallica: Through the Never” gets full mark for the concert scenes. The sound is stellar and Antal’s cinematography gives the audience the ultimate you-are-there experience but in the end the narrative gets in the way of the stage presentation.