If you can accept a complete tonal departure from the source material, this re-imagining is a passable thriller thats light on smarts but heavy on style.
Directed by Adam Wingard
Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it.
Look, everyone knows there is no way you can take an entire season and condense it into one movie. And with Death Note already having an Anime, and several live action movies, the American remake wisely sets out to be something very different. No its not amazing, but its vastly superior to the other Anime Adaptions like The Last Airbender.
IF you can accept that the characters are nothing like the source material, then you’ll enjoy this adaptation. In fact the more unfamiliar with the source material you are, the better.
The movie pretty much sprints through the plot from the start, establishing the main players and rules within minutes. And hell, even knowing the original’s plot, it was fun to see such a different and stylistic departure. If anything, i wish there was more of it, because the plot moves too fast for its own good. You wont get the philosophical debates, or much characterization.
Willem Dafoe is fantastic as Ryuk, and Nat Wolff’s Light Turner worked much better than expected. Its a much more animated, punkish performance but it works for the highly stylized reinvention that Adam Wingard goes for.
What doesn’t work is Lakeith Stanfield as ‘L’. His manic performance just overwhelms a film which is already bursting with energy. The plot also suffers from being so condensed, and you barely notice the other characters. To the film’s credit, it at least makes sense, but it breezes through what feels like an entire season in under 2 hours.
At the end of the day, this was a solid high concept ‘B’ movie that stands on its own as a fun, power fantasy thriller. Its weak on the characterization, but the slick production values and breakneck pace makes for a fun, if shallow ride. It could have been a lot more if Netflix just made it into a Season instead of a movie, but if you are a fan of the original, this probably isn’t for you.