Posted on November 30th, 2014
I just watched a film that’s rather unlike anything else I’ve seen in a while. I decided to watch Metallica: Through The Never because it sounded pretty cool: a hybrid between a concert film and an urban thriller. It’s rather spectacular, and rather unique.
Now I like Metallica. I wouldn’t say that I’m a superfan of them or anything – I broadly subscribe to the idea that the first five albums are great (yeah, that’s right, I love The Black Album) then they go a little too far down the sellout road, but somehow Death Magnetic is rather awesome again (I haven’t heard any of Lulu because I suspect it’s just better that way). But that’s enough to be predisposed to liking this film, I’d say (only a couple of songs on the setlist aren’t from those albums).
Would I have enjoyed this film so much if I didn’t like (or at least appreciate) Metallica? Hard to say. After all, a significant proportion of this film is a Metallica concert. But it’s also a concert with some of the most ridiculously high production values ever seen. This is a concert where ‘One’ opens with a firework display approximating an air raid. This is a concert when ‘…And Justice For All’ sees a large statue of Lady Justice being built just so it can get smashed down again. This is a concert where a man is set on fire, made to look seriously injured, then the band decide to play on anyway.
The man on fire appears apparently for story reasons, because as the band are playing, their nameless roadie gets in a car crash and wakes up in a cross between The Warriors and the future scenes from The Terminator, where gangs on horseback are fighting riot police. There are some broad thematic links to the setlist and the outside action, but mostly it just provides a tempo for the carnage onscreen (because most of the film involves Metallica songs, there’s almost no dialogue in the story scenes). Daniel Dehaan as the nameless roadie is not really asked to do much other than frown in a variety of ways, but he does it with full conviction.
The sense of foreboding and dread drips right off the screen. No matter what you may think of how this film sounds, you will probably be impressed with how it looks. The concert itself looks incredible, with pyrotechnics and light-shows aplenty, and the story sections portray a plausible dystopian urban nightmare that somehow glows in the darkness. I definitely wish I’d been able to see the IMAX version.
One final thought: between this and Some Kind of Monster, Metallica may just have the best filmography of any band outside of The Beatles. What would the band that refused to make music videos for so many years have made of that? I don’t know, but the band in their place now probably love it.