Since I’m not familiar with the Death Note manga and anime, I can’t comment on the recent Netflix movie’s fidelity to the source material, but I can say that as a movie, it’s a wild mess that leaves much to be desired. The plot moves at such a rapid pace that investing in the characters and buying what unfolds prove to be difficult (if not impossible) tasks, though the movie is admittedly never boring. It doesn’t help that the characters act stupidly and make downright inexplicable decisions, requiring ridiculous suspension of disbelief. Despite its intriguing concept, the movie is scared of expanding its mythology and truly diving into the wider implications of using the Death Note. The tone routinely veers left and right, providing (unintentionally?) hilarious moments aplenty. His high-pitched screaming aside, a miscast Nat Wolff cannot save the character of Light from blandness. Margaret Qualley makes Mia fun to watch, and Lakeith Stanfield’s jittery performance as investigator L actually suits the movie’s pace and tone. The death god Ryuk is mostly sidelined, which is a shame because Willem Dafoe tackles him with much gusto. Director Adam Wingard is quite the visual stylist, with David Tattersall’s cinematography enlivening the frame through shadows and neon colors. Ironically, it feels like this movie wrote its own name in the Death Note itself, and we are here to witness its demise.
* Photo courtesy of Netflix