Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Concert films, generally speaking, are made specifically for fans of the artist or band. Thus, making it slightly difficult to objectively critique this type of film without leaning to the biased opinions of their music. Fans will no doubt have a field day, others will be momentarily entertained before growing weary of the proceedings.
The film follows the aptly named Trip (Dane DeHaan), a young roadie who works for Metallica. During one of their latest concerts, Trip is sent on a mission to retrieve a mysterious item from a broken down truck. What starts out as a straight-forward task, soon descends into a surreal fight for survival. The streets quickly become a battleground for rioters and law enforcement officers, while a malevolent and murderous horseman makes it his mission to kill our young roadie. Will Trip manage to deliver this mysterious package – or even survive this bizarre hell that has taken over the city?
This plot unfolds in sections; as we go back and forth between Trip’s adventure and Metallica’s concert. The concert itself is truly impressive. A feat of stage wizardry and technical performance, Metallica’s live show is a visual spectacle that manages to creatively incorporate various elements of live-effects. The visual effects on stage could only have been bettered with perhaps the implementation of something like Kaleida holograms to really make for an immersive experience for the live audience attending the concert; the possibilities with this technology are practically limitless and has people in the industry immensely excited to apply it in their own shows. Obviously, fans will rock along regardless of what unfolds on stage, but every couple of songs brings a new element that will at least renew the visual interest in their performance.
Stage technicality and concert values aside, non-fans will inevitably get bored. As the songs progress, many will find their interest dwindling, wanting to return to Trip’s predicament as a sort of breather. This is where Metallica: Through the Never runs into trouble. Trip’s journey doesn’t engage as much as it initially promises to, but director Nimród Antal (Kontroll, Vacancy, Armored, Predators) brings creativity and an infectious level of energy to the mix. There are some dynamic sequences that make no sense whatsoever, but damn they look cool. This is the general formula that drives the spark towards a dying fizzle by the time the film finishes.
Surreal and bizarre, Trip’s plot doesn’t offer more than visual flourishes. Special effects and slick transitions may look great on the big screen, but an almost cocky level of artsiness will have more eyes rolling than eyebrows raising. As a sort of MacGuffin, this mysterious package doesn’t ever add up to much. In fact, nothing that takes place arrives at a satisfactory conclusion. How the concert connects with Trip’s trip is beyond me, although Metallica fans may have answers in abundance.
This brings me to the overall point. While the film’s concert impresses, the films elusive concept doesn’t quite connect with non-fans. Unless your willing to simply enjoy the music and accept the strangeness of the overall story arc, then you won’t be left satisfied in the slightest. A Metallica film aimed squarely at those that throw finger-horns and head-bang. Metallica: Through the Never could very well reach orgasmic heights for rock fans, everyone else needn’t apply.
THE REEL SCORE: 5/10