For those who don’t know, I’m a card carrying, lifelong Metal Head (I just saw both KAMELOT and HELLOWEEN live over the last month). Even though Metallica was one of my favorite bands in my childhood, I’ve sort of fallen out of favor with them as their music has not really connected with me post “The Black Album.” So it was with a little trepidation that I went to see METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER as I didn’t feel like being barraged with their more recent music and being bored to tears.
I’m happy to say that most of the music in the film is classic Metallica focusing on their first five albums with only a few dips into newer tracks. That was a relief.
Now, the movie itself is a bit of an oddity for me. Primarily it’s a concert film. A very good concert film, adroitly shot by Award-winning filmmaker Nimrod Antal (PREDATORS). Not being a huge fan of concert films, I was struck by how incredible well conceived the footage was. It truly puts you right on the stage without feeling intrusive. I have not seen Metallica live since the “…And Justice for All” Tour, so I was amazed with how expansive their stage show was. I’m sure the audience got their money’s worth.
The other part of the film is an attempt at narrative with a young roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan) who’s set off on a mission to retrieve a bag of something “important” for the band that was stranded in the city when the truck ran out of gas. So Trip heads out in with a gas can to insure the bag is delivered. Things don’t go well for Trip. After crashing his van, he slowly realizes that the outside world is on a collision course with the apocalypse and he is caught in the middle of the escalation.
This is intercut with various songs being performed on stage, but to be honest I never really got a sense of the thematic connections between the chosen songs and the nightmarish events playing out in the street surrounding the arena. It makes the movie feel very disjointed, especially as the narrative becomes more and more fanciful. Also, like PULP FICTION’s suitcase, the bag is merely a MacGuffin and even by the very end of the credits, we never do find out its contents.
I was expecting a movie experience more akin to PINK FLOYD’s masterwork THE WALL, which is an unnerving descent into madness told through the music and lyrics. Unfortunately THROUGH THE NEVER pales in comparison. With that said, if you are a fan of METALLICA you can’t get much better concert footage than this.