As I sat down to write this review, I figured it would be best to start out by outlining the plot of Metallica’s concert/fiction film Through the Never. The only issue is that it sounds like a completely bizarro fever dream – and not necessarily in a good way.
The film follows a young Metallica roadie named Trip – although I don’t recall his name ever being outlined in anything other than the IMDb castlist – as he is sent out on a mission to retrieve a mysterious item of the band’s that they urgently need for some reason or another. Leaving the concert only half a song in, Trip finds himself plunged into the depths of a city that has turned rabid, as he fights his way through brutish protestors and finds a deadly enemy in a gas-masked horseman who keeps lasso-ing people around the neck (actually happened). Why the city is in such disarray is never touched upon, but I guess we’re supposed to assume that it’s because Metallica’s music just rocks TOO HARD and there’s no other option but to ignite an apocalypse. Eventually, Trip finds the mysterious item that his quest was all about, and guess what? It’s a black gym bag! Spooky. I found this “reveal” to be so ludicrous that I actually snorted.
Perhaps the only saving grace of the ridiculous narrative is how little it features in the actual film. Despite being hailed as a “music-driven feature film”, the actual narrative bits combined would take up no longer than 6 minutes of screen time in the 92-minute film. The rest is pure Metallica, having the time of their lives rocking out on this stupidly huge stage with the most mind-boggling pyrotechnics that stage shows have to offer, probably. The spectacle of it all is actually fascinating and quite amazing, and the visual splendour is surely elevated by the use of 3D, which I didn’t hate for once. But no matter how visually thrilling the concert footage was, it wasn’t enough to redeem the faux-provocativeness, and all-over shittiness of the narrative. What made the narrative even more pointless was the fact that they barely tried to lace it in with what was happening in the concert, as these events were supposedly happening at the same time. And what’s even worse, is that they didn’t even bother telling the audience what’s in the bag. It’s such an obvious attempt to incite intrigue that it makes itself the most irritatingly pseudo-intellectual ending I have seen in a long time, so bravo to them.
I can only assume that they were trying to evoke the same kind of reaction that the end of Inception did – the only issue in this film (well, one of many) is the filmmaker hasn’t given the audience enough (or any) reason to give a shit about what’s in the bag. The bag seems irrelevant in terms of what else is going on in this post-apocalyptic wasteland that Metallica have apparently incited with their leather vests and mid-forties bad a$$ attitude.
If you’re a Metallica fan, chances are you’ll love it. Just don’t expect any cohesive or coherent narrative. And in terms of “rating” this film, I almost feel like I’m reflecting on two different films, and so will treat it as such.