Starring: Dane DeHaan and Metallica: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo.
A lone skateboarder enters the backstage area of a sold out arena where Metallica are about to perform where it’s all happening. Trip is a novice roadie for the band, a few notches down the pecking order but loyal to his rock and roll elders. As the excellent instrumental The Ecstasy of Gold by Ennio Morricone plays signifying entry of the band, Trip enjoys their opening number when a fellow roadie alerts him to a job that has to be completed. Leaving en-route in his rundown van, Trip begins an unworldly journey that will take him to the edge of sanity.
This is a concept movie of live performances entwined with a bizarre narrative linking to each song as played. Pink Floyd The Wall was a concept movie without the live portion. Meaningless interludes don’t add up at first, car crash victims frozen in the street, public hangings, a wild horseman and even a creepy puppet coming alive are just a few of the strange events decoded through the set list. So excellent in The Place Beyond the Pines, Dane DeHaan as Trip remains almost mute the entire film. Using only his offbeat facial expressions and body movement to convey the various predicaments, this includes being submerged in water and escaping from a screaming posse of vigilantes.
The real reason to see this film is of course, Metallica. With decibel levels cranked to 11, the boys are up close and personal immersed in glorious 3D cinematography. Seeing this in IMAX is a bonus, but as long as the speakers are blasting, any cinema will do. No soft light here, it’s all thunder bolts, lasers, smoke, coffins, electric chair, rising crucifixes and a remarkable led lit floor just to name a few of the elaborate props. The stage design encompasses different eras of the band’s tours dating back to their 1980’s beginnings. Those who know And Justice For All will get a thrill out of seeing Doris again, part of the Damaged Justice tour of 88/89. One highlight, there are many, is when after a pretend incident of power failure and casualties, Hetfield declares: ‘I want to keep playing,’ and the band do just that by bringing out small amps. ‘It’s like jamming in our garage,’ Hetfield adds to excite the appreciative audience before ripping into another stripped back classic tune, Hit The Lights. The songs are an eclectic selection fans should be happy with.
Even as the end credits roll, the rare instrumental ‘Orion’ from the Master of Puppets album and a great end to the movie in front of nobody but a swirling camera. If you can get past the self destruction sideshow of Trip, you will enjoy this musical master-class by a bunch of guys who obviously know every mark and cue better than ever. The ‘other’ Metallica movie Some Kind of Monster was a documentary and a very good one, however Through the Never concentrates on epic performance to a variant metal loving crowd.
Pity about the misunderstood subplot, I get that Trip overcomes insurmountable odds to complete his quest, it just left me perplexed with the question on everybody’s lips, what’s in the bag that he found? Traditionally, a Metallica show is well over two hours, maybe an extended Blu-Ray release will be forthcoming, more music please.
Shane A. Bassett