Through the Never is Metallica’s latest concert film culled from their massive August 2012 Vancouver show with a background track featuring the band’s roadie trying to survive warring cops and protestors in a post-apocolyptic world. Never is meant to play as introspection of the band’s catalog of aggressive, rebellious metal hits, but doesn’t offer much in terms of an intimate look behind the American rockers. I suggest Some Kind of Monster for a traditional and revealing (perhaps too revealing) alternative. Never is really about kicking ass on a large viewing screen, as loudly as possible. Nimród Antal (Director, Predators) dispatches 24 cameras to accomplish this feat in stunning 3-D IMAX.
The movie opens to a Metallica faithful arriving at the venue and proclaiming his love for the rock Gods. Trip (Dane DeHaan, Chronicle) rolls by on his skateboard, delivering a package to the band manager back stage. Trip admires the band, taking in every moment of his privileged position behind-the-scenes. Trip’s boss sends him on a routine courier job to fetch an important item belonging to the band. Trip feels he has purpose and is dedicated to fulfilling his task. But as Trip roams the city searching out his objective, it quickly becomes obvious to him there is something strange afoot in the empty streets. He happens upon a street battle brewing between protestors and cops in full riot gear. The streets have now turned to an urban wasteland and a strange man in a chemical mask atop a horse takes his aim at Trip. The roadie must do whatever it takes to survive his perpetrator and deliver the important package.
DeHaan carries out his non-speaking role effectively, but the narrative never feels in sync with the rock track and concert playing behind it. It quickly becomes a distraction and detriment to the real star of this film: Metallica. Hetfield and team rip through their thrash-metal genre defining set list as masters of the art form. A careers worth of chart-topping hits pound through the state-of-the-art IMAX sound systems offering a satisfactory alternative to the real thing. It is an auditory thrill ride. In my opinion, however, there is a better realized concert DVD featuring the band, called Cunning Stunts. The on-stage antics and production are similar, with a less-PG frontman engaging with his audience. It’s a truer Metallica concert experience. However, there are enough new tricks (the Tesla coils will impress) in Never to satisfy most Metallica fans, and of course, you will be fighting the urge to chant along.