Twitter Plot Summary: Part Metallica concert, part interpretative mostly silent action movie. Entirely good.
Five Point Summary:
1. For Whom The Bell Tolls.
3. Master of Puppets.
4. Nothing Else Matters.
Through The Never – a name originating from Metallica’s self titled “Black Album” released in 1991 – mixes a thriller storyline with concert footage from a number of gigs on the band’s 2012 tour. The film received a (very) brief IMAX run in 2013, and given that 3D is generally an unwelcome fad, it has to be said that Through The Never was clearly designed to be watched in three dimensions. This is perhaps the biggest problem when viewing it on the small screen. Unless you have the 3D Blu-Ray of course. Suffice to say, if you’re not a Metallica fan then please move along, there is nothing for you to see here.
The storyline attached to this concert film is almost unnecessary as the band’s showmanship, musicianship and talent is more than enough to carry a 90 minute running time and beyond. Dane DeHaan doesn’t get a huge amount to do, but he does at least have the face and the attitude to fit in with Metallica’s music. The issue with the story is that it’s never given a clear explanation, instead existing just to act as an accompaniment to the band’s music. Those sequences look incredibly good, but more effort in terms of explaining what is going on in the streets wouldn’t have hurt – turn it into an actual narrative rather than a visual representation of the songs. At first it’s almost an insult when it cuts away from the live performance and starts following DeHaan’s gopher Trip, who is tasked with taking fuel to a van that has broken down nearby. As the film progresses the transitions to see Trip’s journey become both less frequent and less grating, but it’s still at its best when it returns to the band and their impressive stage performance.
Trip’s journey is a surreal one through mostly deserted city streets, as Trip is chased by a mysterious figure riding a horse and wearing a gas mask. The quieter moments are punctuated by hundreds of rioters and police making an appearance, and the insanity could either be a direct result of Metallica’s performance or just because Trip popped a pill before heading out on his road trip.
It’s the concert footage that really wins it, with Nimrod Antal – he of Predators fame – shooting the various gigs with 24 cameras and covering every possible angle, getting right in with the band yet also being able to pull the camera out to a wide angle in order to show the arena and the fans in all their glory. Passion is the keyword to a Metallica audience, and everyone involved seems to be giving 110% – you can almost feel the impact of the mosh pits.
The set list for the film is a basic greatest hits collection of Metallica’s finest – there’s nary a sight of missteps such as St Anger – which in fairness do work well in a live setting – instead boiling it down to fan favourites and an instrumental of Orion over the end credits. Start to finish, the music is epic in every sense of the word.
Through The Never is an interesting twist on the traditional concert film, although it could do with more work in terms of defining the accompanying narrative. It is however mostly about the music, which remains as fresh and engaging as any other Metallica performance you’re likely to see. The band are still at the top of their game despite having been on the scene for 30+ years. To see them perform here, you’d never have guessed it, and that’s recommendation enough.