Bit of a bum note, more like.
Hardly worthy of death threats BUT yikes . . . It’s a bit of a mess.
High school student, Light Turner (Nat Wolff) discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written within its pages and launches a secret crusade to rid the world of criminals.
Now, I’m not a hardcore fan. It has been a long time since I watched the anime series and I loved the 2006 live action Shusuke Kaneko movie. After laughing at the “Netflix Original” title, I went in fearing the worst.
The poor ratings and scathing reviews had put me off BIG TIME.
And for the first 30 minutes or so, I was . . . pleasantly surprised.
The hypnotic opening track (Australian Crawl’s Reckless), Margaret Qualley from The Leftovers (What?), Nat Wolff’s creepy pallor and bleach blond hair.
It didn’t mess about. There wasn’t a slow ominous build up. It got straight to business. If anything, it might have been a little rushed.
The iconic death God Ryuk had already made his introduction within 15 minutes! Willem Dafoe was perfectly cast.
As soon as his gravelly vocals pierced the speakers, there were goosebumps. I’ll admit it. The animation wasn’t too shabby. A creepier improvement if I don’t say so. BUT what do you think?
As much as I could feel for the teen’s angst about his mother’s death and his anger at the judicial system, I didn’t really like Turner. And that was the problem.
Wolff’s performance was a mixed bag. His crazy facial expressions and OTT reactions were too much.
I know they’re teenagers BUT really? This should have been so much darker. The death sequences were deliciously violent and gory BUT it felt like something out of Final Destination.
The premise was still intriguing. A book that can kill any name you put down.
Ridding the world of terrorists and dictators. Making the world a better place under the alias of “Kira”. The Japanese nods well and truly in flow.
BUT of course, there were rules. Rules that Ryuk conveniently decides to share at the worst possible moment.
I don’t know why there was a heavy 80s soundtrack BUT it worked.
It was good to see Eli from Boardwalk (Shea Whigham) in a bigger role. He nailed it as Light’s father. The vigilant cop desperate to put an end to Kira’s reign.
BUT it wasn’t long before I could see what everyone was complaining about.
“Okay, follow the rules. Your fingers are really huge”.
The humour was heavy handed and came off far too comical than it was supposed to. Unintentional or otherwise. Especially when Light shared his secret with his dream girl Mia (Qualley), “I have a death God”.
Wolff and Qualley had just enough chemistry to drudge through some of the hammier scenes BUT the dialogue was terrible.
Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) did his best as the crime solving candy chomping cyber sleuth ‘L’. A super intelligent wacko also hell bent on catching Kira. BUT it just didn’t work.
It’s funny if this was animated, I wouldn’t have batted an eye BUT seeing ‘L’ being sung to sleep by his Japanese aide, Watari (Paul Nakauchi) was too much.
The cat and mouse game was interesting enough BUT too much time was spent on ‘L’ and Stanfield’s acting wasn’t the best. It didn’t help that he was reduced to spewing fast-talking nonsense.
The pace surprisingly dragged when the story focused on ‘L’s origins. It took everything away from Light and reduced Ryuk to nothing. Dismal.
The longer the film went on, the sillier it got. The action set pieces and chase sequences were okay BUT it built everything up for a ridiculous and chaotic finale that didn’t make much sense.
With pressure mounting and the power of the Note taking over, it was only a matter of time before there was a rift between Light and Mia BUT their incessant squabbling got on my nerves. Even Qualley irritated the hell out of me.
And the twist, if you can call it that, was woeful and by the end, I didn’t care.
It was watchable enough and killed the time. BUT memorable? Meh. The original live action version was haunting and engrossing. It toyed with the moral and ethical implications of taking someone’s life.
This remake felt like a dumbed down version for the “ADHD generation”. Afraid to stick with a set tone and desperately throwing in any old guff to keep those pesky kids off their mobile phones.
No one goes out to make a bad movie and if director Adam Wingard has been receiving death threats for this than that needs to STOP.
I have seen so much worse. This wasn’t great BUT I think it warranted a little bit more than a 4/10 on the IMDb.
Started off so well BUT ended on a bum note.
P.S. Did any Heroes fans spot Masi Oka’s cameo? What was the deal with that Nakamura reference? Hmmm . . . .