It’s been fourteen years since the massively popular Death Note manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata was released, and since then has it has already been adapted into a thirty-seven part anime series as well as four live-action films in Japan. It really was only a matter of time before Death Note received the Hollywood treatment considering the wild popularity it has gained over the years around the world.
As with the original, Death Note follows Light Turner (Nat Wolff), a high-school student who one day comes across the titular notebook in the school yard that grants him the power to kill anyone by picturing their face in his mind and writing their full name and cause of death on it’s pages. Not long after finding it, Light meets a Shinigami (death god) named Ryuk (William DeFoe) who is the keeper of the book and the one who sent it to Light.
Light starts off small, killing an unpopular school bully but after teaming-up with classmate and romantic interest Mia (Margaret Qualley), they both decide to up the death toll by going on a global killing spree after searching for criminals online and punishing those who got off the hook unjustly. Soon Light begins “work” under the alias of Kira (roughly translated as “killer” in Japanese) and begins making each of his victims write the name in their own blood as a calling card. This soon begins a cat-and-mouse game between he and the worlds top detective who is known only as “L” who will stop at nothing to find Kira’s true identity and take him down.
It is worth noting that Adam Wingard’s adaptation of Death Note is a lot different from that of the original, with a lot of character and story changes. This adaptation takes place in Seattle, Washington and portrays Light as more of a whiny cry-baby type teen than the sharp intellectual he was portrayed as previously. This quickly becomes grating but works well alongside Mia, who is now a lot more involved in the story than in previous adaptations. Mia is the driving force behind the killing spree, often forcing him into things when he hesitates, making her a much more threatening and interesting character and Margaret Qualley’s performance alongside William DeFoe and Keith Stanfield as Detective L is really admirable.
Overall this adaptation of Death Note isn’t perfect, and while the tone is unclear it is a fun adaptation with a solid cast and features a great score by Atticus and Leopold Ross. It is advised if you are a fan of the original manga or anime that you go into this adaptation with an open mind and treat it as a stand alone film since this film strays away from a lot the original work’s story. Personally I’m intrigued to see if Netflix will follow up the film with a sequel, as I feel there is still room for more of the original story to be covered.
| Courtney Bennett
Fantasy, Thriller, Horror| USA 2017 | 15 | Netflix | Dir.Adam Wingard
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