Three white men (at least two of them cops) who have been unjustly acquitted of killing unarmed black men are targeted by three wise old telepaths, who recruit three angry members of a hardcore punk band to assassinate them. In terms of plot, Empty Metal is pretty much as simple as that. It’s only in structure and point of view that the new film from Adam Khalil and Bayley Sweitzer is far from straightforward.
Empty Metal opens on a voice-over reflection on the distinction between the apocalypse and the end of the world which I found hard to follow. The next twenty minutes or so is a seemingly disjointed series of character introductions mixed in with some archive footage of police brutality. How a mockumentary interview with a depressed punk band, fake news footage of police shootings, and anti-government radicals conducting paramilitary drills all fit into the same movie only becomes clear once we realize the band is being recruited as assassins.
Once the plot of the film is finally clear, it still seems to jump all over the place between rants and murder plots. Even the thriller elements play out in Empty Metal‘s own unique cinematic language. Some audiences are sure to admire the unconventional structure. I personally found it to be alienating and often confusing. While I appreciate the passion and honesty that everyone involved seemed to bring to the project, it’s a little unclear what the film’s point of view is supposed to be.
I can’t think of a single film to compare Empty Metal to, which in a way has got to be some kind of high praise. If you want to watch a provocative and truly unconventional film, this may be for you. As honest a film as this, however, it just wasn’t for me.
Friday, October 19, 9 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox