Review of 'Death Note'

death_note_2017.jpg Light Turner (Nat Wolff) is a bored and listless high school kid who has typical teenager issues such as the school bully who is evil incarnate. After a particularly bad incident a book falls from the sky (as they do) with a mysterious title on the front cover: “Death Note”. Inside there is a list of instructions that boils down to: You put the name of someone in the book and that person dies (and in the manner you specify). He wastes no time in giving it a try and soon the school bully is no more (in a particularly gruesome manner). He meets the book's guardian, the demon Ryuk (voiced by Willem Dafoe), that only Light can see, and who offers “helpful” advice. Light brings his girlfriend Mia (Margaret Qualley) into the secret where she gets a bit too enthusiastic. The series of mysterious deaths the two cause using the book quickly attract the attention of the highly intelligent 'L' (LaKeith Stanfield) who works with the police to track down the perpetrators.

A rather light weight (no pun intended) version of the highly popular Japanese manga of the same name. “Death Note” has been previously released as a Japanese live action film (see here for my review) but this is the Hollywood version or, at least, Netflix, which seems to be the closest we get to Hollywood these days. The story has been simplified and shortened for the English audience, suffering all the more for it. The acting is quite good, particularly LaKeith Stanfield as the enigmatic “L” and his assistant Watari played by Paul Nakauchi who Light subverts. Otherwise, the film is a bit of gore fest with the long scenes of normality harshly interrupted by visceral, graphic violence splashing across the screen. Towards the end the film becomes a typical chase story but, it has to be said, with an ingenious ending that took me by surprise…but this is probably the best bit of the whole film.

For fans unfamiliar with the source material the film is not likely to impress, for fans they will likely be interested in what Netflix has done but less so after having seen it. Not great, but OK. I originally watched this about a year ago and forgot I had done so, watching it again only recently which only goes to show how memorable this film truly is.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-08-28

Directed by: Adam Wingard

Studio: Netflix

Year: 2017

Length: 101 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Adam Wingard: