Craig's First Take: "Metallica Through the Never"

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Trip, a young roadie for Metallica, is sent on an urgent mission during the band's show. But what seems like a simple assignment turns into a surreal adventure
3.5

I’m still not sure I get the appeal of concert films. If aliens were to review the situation from space, they would see a stadium full of a people rocking out to one of the best hard rock bands America has ever produced. Then pull back to reveal a handful of people sitting quietly in a movie theater with their 3-D glasses on. It’s hard not to think they’re screaming from space to the movie theater crowd, “hey, you’re doing it wrong.”

But as far as concert films go, “Metallica: Through the Never” makes more sense to me than most, definitely more than the One Direction one a couple months ago. James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett have been going strong for over 30 years. Bassist Robert Trujillo, who joined the band in 2003, looks like the baby of the group but frankly all these guys look long in the tooth and it’s hard not to admire them for still going strong, going hard, and inspiring the kind of following they have.

Directed by Nimrod Antal (“Predators”), the film focuses on a one-night show in LA (actually filmed during five nights in Canada) and the adrenaline of the music plus the technical accompaniment is really something. The song “Ride the Lightening” has a great sequence where an electric chair hovering over the band shocks to life. For “Fuel”, fire shoots out of everywhere while pumping car cylinders are broadcasted through screens around the arena. The crowd eats this up and it’s easy to see why.

What works less is the narrative going on outside of the arena. Things suddenly turn apocalyptic as crowds of rioting people take to the streets. You sort of expect Snake Plissken to come out of nowhere but instead we get a roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan, poised to be a break-out star very soon), sent out to get a mysterious bag and bring it back to the band. But he soon must contend with all-out chaos, beatings, and a twisted horseman wearing what looks like a Bane mask.

The concert footage and the carnage in the streets is cut pretty seamlessly together, it fits like a hand into a glove actually. Just nothing about the narrative is all that compelling, it’s just there as meaningless action sequences to go with the music. Still, I guess if you want meaning, you should see the Metallica documentary “Some Kind of Monster.” “Through the Never” is for fans of the music and it gives them, mostly, what they want.