The human whose name is written in this list shall die. – Death Note
Loosely Based on the popular Japanese manga series, the American adaptation of Death Note amalgamated the American essence of individualism and yet retaining the original material of the cartoon. Directed by Adam Wingard and written by Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, and Jeremy Slater, this Netflix film may not have been positively received by die-hard fans of the original anime series.
We are introduced to Nat Wolff as Light Turner/Kira in the beginning of the film where he finds a diary drop from the skies. This writing pad is titled Death Note, leaving Turner confused but strangely excited.
He is beaten by a high school bully and is dragged to the principal’s office for handing out completed homework for various people. Turner had lost his mother and therefore his fight with the bully was a projection of the behavioral issues he clearly has. He obviously is slapped with detention but on his first day, he meets with Ryuk, (played both by Willem Dafoe who provided voice work and Jason Liles, who played the character in costume) the demonic god of death and creator of Death Note. Ryuk begins communicating with Light when he receives the book and warns him about its repercussions.
As the film progresses, viewers observe the growth of the underdog Turner into a cold bloodied serial killer. Even though he is cautioned by the many rules in the book and a scribbled note imploring the possessor of the book not to trust Ryuk he still does not budge. He partners with his crush-cum-girlfriend, Mia, but like any teenager in these thematic films, he does not learn. Instead, he takes on the mantle of a hero kills anyone who is a criminal much like Batman. The police are baffled at the deaths of criminals who die in accidental circumstances.
The juxtaposition of Light and Mia having sexual relations whilst writing and killing off various abusers of power and the corrupt is akin to their lust for seeking vengeance for the oppressed. The fact that Kira is credited with many deaths, has unhinged FBI agent L played by Lakeith Stanfield obsessed with finding the individual and prosecuting the ‘omnipotent’ Kira.
Furthermore, the partners find that Light maybe turning into a Japenese god, Kira who punished the wicked. But, most importantly this film also shed light on cult and hero worship in modern societies.
Celebrities have become saviors even though their social media stunts and PR tactics serve no purpose at all. The hidden meaning behind the dark cinematography symbolizes the darkness Light and Mia have absorbed and the lengths to which they can go to.
With the recent phenomenon of Blue Whale and its creator, 22-year-old Philipp Budeikin cleansing the society and Kira in the film/series is relevant. We have the former creating a game aimed at people who are suffering from depression or are unheard, and the latter who aims to kill those who harass others. The juxtaposition is eerily substantial.
Death Note is certified as 40% fresh by Rotten Tomatoes and its rating by IMDB is similarly dismal with a 4.6. The dialogue delivery is a drag and the film becomes predictable, and the soundtrack is distracting. The way people are killed in the film is cheap CGI which puts a sensible viewer off.
I rate this film 1.5/5 because it becomes boring midway. Watch when you are bored and want to kill someone for fries. if you watch The Originals, then one of its leads Elijah Mikaelson states that he is,
“Obscenely fond of torture.”
This film was torture to see. Beware.