Let’s talk Death Note.
Most people know the backstory of Death Note; basically Shinigami’s (death gods) exist and in their possession are death notes, a book in which the name of the person you write in dies. You can specify how, the place and time, but if nothing is written then the person dies of heart failure (or a heart attack).
Ten years previously to the story in “Light up a NEW World” a death note was used and abused by a Japanese teenager named as Kira who become somewhat a god for the people as he killed “evil” and “cleansed” the corrupt world in name of justice. He died, along with the famous P.I known as “L”.
Skip a decade and the world is witness (and terrorised) again to the mysterious deaths caused by death notes – except this time it’s six and in the hands of serial killers and cyberterrorists. To combat this a “New Kira Special Task Force” is formed consisting of Matsuda (Sota Aoyama) – who was previously a friend of Kira/Yagami Light and Death Note fanboy Mishima (Masahiro Higashide), along with the partnership of L’s successor “Ryuzaki” (Sosuke Ikematsu).
Now let it be known I was not a fan of the first two live action movies, so I liked this one slightly better. It’s a similar taste but with something different in the mix. Still the same contrived storytelling, exaggerated situations and ineptitude of the police force but at least the overacting is tuned down – a little and in some cases.
In terms of acting, Ikematsu Sosuke probably stole it for me with his character, although I did keep seeing his character in Mozu and compare, thinking “he can do so much better than this”. And that is the overarching take home critique about this movie “it could have been better”.
You have three very popular and successful, in their own right, young actors (and not idols or talents) but the performance they gave was collectively lacklustre. Masahiro was stiff, and albeit this character called for that after watching him shortly before in Hero Mania I had higher hopes he had improved. Masaki Suda (as Shien) was okay, don’t get me wrong he delivered his character (who was somewhat to 1-D for me) and he looked freakin gorgeous, but honestly he wasn’t memorable. Now Ikematsu’s character as Ryuzaki was more interesting, and I think probably got the most screen time, however never went anywhere. I was intrigued by his last actions; I wanted to know more about his conflicts and relationships (especially with Arma). I also totally understand what the director was hinting at of a bromance between Ryuzaki and Mishima (there were times you could see fangirls shouting “just kiss already”). And the final actions of each left me with questions (and heartbreak). But overall the interaction between all three was minimal, however what we did get I thought was anticlimactic (if not well acted and action packed) – again I just wanted something a little more.
What was good though was the return of Misa (Erika Toda)- her character was charming and heartbreaking, yet her conclusion was justified (and probably the most sympathetic to her struggles and storyline). May she find happiness. It was also astute to include Misa, because it did explain some events that without the backstory of her past would leave the storyline with some major plot holes – not saying the existing storyline doesn’t have any.
Talking storyline…..it’s well typical of the genre and of course with a few twists and “shock” conclusion that is left open-ended. Some people complained that the start of the movie was too rushed with the explanation of the reappearance of Death Notes in the world and how they had been used in the decade since Kira’s death. I wasn’t one of those people – but then again I had watched the prelude episodes that kinda introduced the three main characters before the movie and am also a fan of coming into movies with already established characters, just momentarily looking at their world as a silent witness then stepping out again – not this episodic nature of movies where everything is introduced, action is taken, and at the end everything is nicely resolved. Unfortunately though Death Note does follows convention.
At its core the movie is like four connected events (Introduction, Chase, Cat and Mouse Game, Final Confrontation) that lead to a climatic ending, which is shot beautifully in an abandoned building with the three main leads (kudos director). And of course leaves it wide-open for a sequel. Ryuk you devilish death god.