Do not be fooled by Dane DeHaan’s presence in Metallica: Through The Never. In no way do the legendary rockers take a backseat to some twisted, dystopian storyline as the trailer suggest, as director Nimród Antal delivers an absolute spectacle of a feature length music video/VIP concert experience mashup – but nothing else. Please don’t take this as a negative point though, as I’m a metalhead who was rocking out with everyone in my screening, but instead heed my words going into Metallica’s second feature. If a concrete story with a nice hard rocking soundtrack is what you’re looking for, you won’t find it here. With that said, Antal’s experience is an absolute must see for Metallica fans, giving them an unprecedented, up-close and personal look at a band who can still shred like no other.
The side story that takes place during a sold-out Metallica show follows Trip (Dane DeHaan), a metal loving roadie, who is tasked with a mission during the show. With one of the crew’s trucks out of gas somewhere in the city, he’s asked to find the now stationary vehicle, get it re-fueled, and transport the important contents back the to arena. Bummed that he has to miss some of Metallica’s set, Trip sets out for the seemingly simple mission, but nothing will prepare him for the strange quest he’s about to embark on. Diving into a violent world without warning, Trip must escort the truck’s mystery contents back to the concert, fighting through a city while cutting back to the Metallica concert at times.
Well, I should rephrase that last sentence. I shouldn’t say Trip’s adventure cuts to the Metallica concert, but that we randomly snap away from Hetfield and company to check in on Trip, providing a momentary cinematic interlude. Metallica keeps playing along, as we hear Cyanide blasting while people are fighting, for example, but even at that, this feature is more like a bunch of little music videos featuring Dane DeHaan instead of one, cohesive, flowing story. What we’re watching on screen is awesome, as vibrantly creative ideas and imagery come to life, but considering that DeHaan has about three lines the whole film, these cinematics are just eye candy, enhancing the concert footage that dominates Metallica: Through The Never.
Credit Nimród and cinematographer Gyula Pados with making Metallica look even better than imagined though, as filming the concert provides such a ridiculously breathtaking look at one of the most influential metal bands in history. James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, and Robert Trujillo – whether you love them or hate them, you cannot deny the showmanship, passion, and die-hard insanity these guys bring to every concert. Fans are not only treated to Hammett and Hetfield’s blazing fretwork, Lars’ double-bass barrage, or Trujillo’s thumping bass (which is hilariously displayed during his little introduction shot), but the accompanying light/pyrotechnics/interactive show that Metallica cues up goes above and beyond, from their …And Justice For All statue collapsing on-stage to the gunfire and bombings during their introduction to One.
For as epic of a concert this must have been in real life, this is where Antal and Pados inject even more beauty, going places with the camera that fans never could. We’re directly screamed at by Hetfield as he blares his vocals, we lurk around the stage with Trujillo while he does his patented stalk, we watch Kirk’s fingers furiously rip solo after solo, we see the sweat dripping off Lars – it’s like we’re standing on-stage, with all this rock greatness happening around us. Honestly, the camera angels and spanning shots Pados achieves look better than real life, experiencing every tiny little detail of the concert. Why watch something so epic in real life when a professional cinematographer can choreograph sequence after sequence of heavy metal euphoria?
Metallica: Through The Never is an absolute must-see for Metallica fans everywhere, providing the VIP experience of a lifetime. Not many movies make you want to throw up Ronnie James Dio’s metal horns and mosh in the theater, but listening to Metallica absolutely annihilate so many classic tunes had my blood flowing with surges of adrenaline. While I do wish a much weightier story could have been fleshed out, possibly with DeHaan interacting with the band more, chaotic shots of anarchy play well with Metallica’s songs – even if we aren’t sure why.
This is a total fan experience, and coming from a young fan who never had a chance to see Metallica growing up, it’s an experience that lets me truly appreciate the immense, versatile talents of these iconic artists, who are somehow aging like a fine wine. With no St. Anger or Lulu in sight, Metallica provides a kick in the ass to Hollywood, and a cinematic experience worth every eargasmic second.