Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Running time: 126 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A
UK Release date: 10th November 2007 (Leeds International Film Festival)
Re-watched on Sky+ Saturday 5th November 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I reviewed this film earlier in the year and on re-reading the review I find there’s little I would change. The reason I gave it a re-watch is because I have finally tracked down the sequel, which I intend to watch very soon. Anyway, here’s the review, (with a few edits).
It’s in Japanese with subtitles although I’m led to believe there may be a dubbed version out there somewhere. It is an adaptation of a very popular Manga which I found pretty enjoyable, if a little too long. A very interesting film that asks some intriguing questions about the law and how criminals are brought to justice. More of my thoughts later, after this very brief summary.
Criminals are mysteriously dying of heart attacks. All over the world murderers, rapists, thieves and criminals of all types are randomly dying in unusual circumstances. In Japan the police have dubbed the man responsible ‘Kira’ and he is revered by many of the public. There are those, however, who would prefer the legal process took its course and have dubbed ‘Kira’ a serial killer. The young man behind all this is called Light Yagami, the son of the policeman in charge of the case, Souichiro Yagami. He is a law student and, having become disillusioned with the law, found a notebook one dark night. He also met one of the gods of death, Ryuuk, who was to stay with him as long as he had the book. The instructions for using the book were simple, just write the name of the person you want dead while thinking of their image and they will die of a heart attack within forty seconds if some other means of death is not specified. The police seem powerless to stop him until a mysterious stranger who calls himself ‘L’ offers to help… I’ll leave it there so as not to enrage the Spoiler Police (Ancient Gods Division).
This is a very well made film with very much the feel of a Manga. I always find films from different cultures interesting and this is no exception. At times some of the CGI (used for Ryuuk) looks a little ropy, but apart from that I found it very well made. All the lead actors did a very good job; Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami, Kenichi Matsuyama as ‘L’, Asaka Seto as Naomi Misora, Shigeki Hosokawa as FBI Agent Ray, Takeshi Kaga as Souichiro Yagami, Yu Kashii as Shiori Kashino and finally, Shidô Nakamura as the voice of Ryuuk.
At the end of the day I found this film very enjoyable, if a little over-long. The story does move along a quite a pace, but I found that at just over two hours I had really had enough (maybe that’s just the fact I had to read subtitles for all that time). The end of the movie leaves it on a real cliff-hanger and so I’m waiting to the sequel to appear in the listings again (I missed it first time around). One thing that did strike me on a second viewing was that the film is maybe trying to be a little too clever for its own good. It’s not really a bad thing, it just makes for an, at times, very elaborate plot line that some may find hard to follow. Over all though, a pretty enjoyable film with some very clever plot-twists and a real cliff-hanger ending… Recommended.
My score: 7.6/10
IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 11,483 votes at the time of going to press).
If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
L: [during a television broadcast] I am justice.
Light Yagami: Justice? I am justice! I am the god of the new world, saving it from evil and ridding it of fear. Those who betray God are the evil ones.
L: Gathering from Kira's behaviour, he is very immature and hates to lose... just like me.
Official Site: http://deathnote.viz.com/