Blu-ray Review: Eagles Of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends)

During a late shift working customer service, a client asked me if I’d heard anymore news about Paris attacks on November 13, 2015. After the call, I snuck into the break room to catch CNN’s coverage of an extremist attack on several parts around the city. One of the places they mentioned hit was an Eagles of Death Metal Concert at the historic Bataclan club. Three of the extremist Muslims forced their way into the club with weapons and suicide bombs. By the time the killing was over, 89 people were dead and 200 injured inside the rock concert. Eagles Of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) delves into the band, the night at Bataclan, portions of the aftermath and a triumphant return.

I had heard of the Eagles of Death Metal, but never heard them. When I got home after the shift, I did the usual thing and visited Youtube to see their old videos. Turns out I was familiar with many of their riffs and beats since they had found their way into numerous commercials. While clicking through their songs, it became obvious that this was a band I would have gone to see. This fun boogie rock band was not anything close to death metal. They are the perfect band to drink a few beers and head into the pit shake around when they came to town. Sadly from this point forward, they can’t be enjoyed without the tragic night of Bataclan being part of the experience.

The film covers how lead singer guitarist Jesse Hughes was school pals with Josh Homme out in the California desert. After graduation Homme got notoriety with his bands Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. Jesse ended up reuniting with his pal after a divorce and a not so promising career. He proved to Josh that he had quite a few good songs inside him and Homme decided to make the Eagles of Death Metal happen. Since Josh does so much including Queens of the Stone Age, he doesn’t always tour with the EDM band. And that’s why he wasn’t on the stage in Paris that night. The band, their crew and fans recount the concert when the bullets started and the bombs exploded. Jesse fights tears as he recounts escaping the stage. While the band complains about the police taking so long to storm the venue, there’s no one from the police department or even a reporter that covered the night to give a sense of what was happening on the outside. The film doesn’t have any graphic footage of the actual night after the first sounds of bullets stopped the show. It’s all covered in testimony. The narrative clicks over to the band coming back to the stage in Paris to prove the terrorists hadn’t killed music. First this takes place when U2 brings them out as a surprise on their stadium show in the City of Lights. Later the band returns for an emotional show at Olympia music hall, meets with fans that survived the night and rocks the house.

The death of Nick Anderson who was part of the tour selling the band’s merchandise at the front of the house gets completely obscured as Bono and The Edge take over the narrative with tales of all U2 did for the band. Anderson wasn’t a full time member, but he deserves attention. His death inspired quite a few folks wishing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to induct Anderson to represent so many of the people who sacrifice so much to go on the road to elevate the concert experience. The induction didn’t happen and now he seems even more obscure. Anderson doesn’t haunt this film. He doesn’t even get his full name listed on the dedication at the end of the credits. It just says “For Nick.” Which doesn’t feel like a true dedication. Is Nick Anderson even that Nick? It’s not like they talked about Nick Anderson during the interviews so an audience would remember Nick. Would saying “In Memory of Nick Anderson” be too much of a downer?

The film goes out of its way to stick to the narrative of how friendship lets you deal with a nightmare. The documentary was produced by the giant music operation Live Nation which promoted the Olympia comeback show. There’s nothing too messy on the screen that could damage their clients. This includes not showing any of the footage of when Jesse went on Fox Business News and give his feeling that Muslim security guards of Bataclan knew what was going to happen at the show and let the gunmen inside. He spoke of people outside cheering for the slaughter. He has since apologized for his theory, but it stung so much that Bataclan ownership banned him from returning inside. None of this ugliness gets covered. Colin Hanks does sneak in part of a televised interview before the comeback concert where Jesse gives a confusing message of gun control and wanting people armed before he throws it all out by talking about fans shaking body parts and not worrying about weapons that night. It’s a moment of confusion instead of conspiracy that doesn’t have the same impact as the overlooked Fox Business interview.

The documentary that Colin Hanks and his crew have put together is emotionally gripping as it show a party band deal with the horrors of Bataclan. It feels like we’re getting the big story from band members and fans that they consider friends. But knowing the missing elements are glossed away makes Eagles Of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) incomplete. Of course this is true with all documentaries since you have to create an entertaining storyline for an audience to follow. The film is an inspirational tale that cleans up the rough spots like any dramatic biopic authorized by a musician’s estate so you can applaud at the end. The point of the film is to make you want to see the Eagles of Death Metal when they come to town.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the action as Jesse shakes and quakes on stage with the rest of the Eagles of Death Metal. There’s nothing visually shocking on the screen. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MAster Audio which work best during the performances. There’s also a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix for folks without surround sound systems. Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

Trailer (2:24) pushes the narrative that the music will fix those who survived that night at the Bataclan.

Shout! Factory presents Eagles Of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends). Directed by: Colin Hanks. Starring: Jesse Hughes, Josh Homme, Bono and The Edge. Rated: Not Rated. Running Time: 84 minutes. Released: December 1, 2017.

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