Death Note has the simple premise about a book which passes from one owner to another, and whoever possesses it at the time can write the name of the person they want to die, as well as the method of dispatching them, and can then just sit back and wait for the Grim Reaper’s actions to take their course.
So, it’s like owning your very own murder construction kit! And when anyone’s giving the oddly named Light Turner (Nat Wolff, on devilish form) a hassle and a half, they’ve got to be first in line, right?
I know if I had one of these, I’d have an absolute field day with it! I’d test it with “James Corden” and then go from there, to more local people…
The ‘Grim Reaper’ in this movie, is Ryuk, a character who looks like Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Groot after a heavy night and is voiced by Willem Dafoe.
Anyhoo, Light lives at home with his Dad, after his mother died in circumstances they’d rather forget, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that someone’s going to get their comeuppance, and similar to Dexter, you’d only bump off those who deserve it. The end result for Death Note is that we get something similar to Final Destination with a lot more gore than I expecting. Oh, yes!!!
That said, you’ve got to consider the consequences of your actions…
Enter Keith Stanfield as the mysterious “L”, an independent investigator who’s solved big cases previously, and who has theories on who is causing it all, but will he be right? He’s a bit of an odd character, and certainly has a real ha -rd-on for getting to the root of the problem.
Death Note is not just a hack-and-slash movie, it’s the mystery thriller that Get Out (also starring Stanfield) could only have wished it was. This film has an original* story, a whole heap of style, gripping direction and editing, an ’80s-style synth soundtrack, a stack of intense performances, including all those mentioned so far plus Margaret Qualley as cheerleader hottie Mia. This is just fucking awesome!
(*ok, so it actually stems from a Japanese manga series, where the character is also named Light, so you could say this is not an original film and that it’s like an American remake, but to that I’d say…. SHUT UP and just enjoy it. Thankyou!)
Plus, add in some cheesy music like Air Supply‘s cover version of Jennifer Rush’s The Power of Love, just like director Adam Wingard’s The Guest featured Stevie B’s The Postman Song (Because I Love You), and when it comes to The Guest, that’s already one of my favourite films of this decade, but Death Note is even better.
It’s also a rare movie where I can feel myself enjoying it while it’s on, and am looking forward to seeing the rest as it goes on.
In fact, in the third act, it felt like it was written just for me, as everything that came up was everything I’d enjoy, and I just wanted more and more… but not too much. I always say that the perfect length for a film is 105 minutes, and that films rarely need to last longer than two hours, so 101 minutes for Death Note is just right. It keeps the pace and never slows down.
So, Hollywood can stick its Wonder Woman and Spider-Man, since so far this year, only two films have hit a perfect 10… and they’re both from Netflix, namely this one and Okja. But which is the better of the two? I’ll need to rewatch both and make a decision… and maybe there’ll be another film to hit a 10, too. What Happened To Monday could’ve got there, as it had an incredible first two-thirds, but then it threw it all away in the final act.
There’s definite scope for a follow-up, too, to the point where I thought things were leading to a post-credits scene; There isn’t one, but that makes a sequel all the more likely… especially given the seemingly infinite number of rules this notebook can have.
I’ll conclude with the observation that while Netflix doesn’t have to get films or TV series rated by the BBFC, unless they’re putting them out on Blu-ray and/or DVD, I’d expect this film to get an 18-certificate. I would say it can be seen by anyone of 15 and up, but the BBFC are unlikely to award it that when there’s plenty of gore… but then I’m glad the production team haven’t skimped on the good stuff.
Death Note launches on Netflix this Friday, August 25th, and available to view for all seven days of every week. It’s not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but click on the poster for the full-size version.
Running time: 101 minutes
Format: 2.35:1 (Codex, Dolby Vision, HDR10)
Released: August 25th 2017
Director: Adam Wingard
Producers: Jason Hoffs, Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Masi Oka
Screenplay: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides and Jeremy Slater
Music: Atticus Ross and Leopold Ross
Light Turner: Nat Wolff
Mia Sutton: Margaret Qualley
Ryuk (voice): Willem Dafoe
Ryuk: Jason Liles
L: Keith Stanfield
James Turner: Shea Whigham
Watari: Paul Nakauchi
Police Captain Russel: Michael Shamus Wiles
Principal Green: Paul McGillion
Agent Franks: Christian Sloan
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.