Death Note

Death Note ★★

The writers of "Immortals" join hands with "You're Next", "The Guest" and "Blair Witch" sequel director Adam Wingard to cook up a more Americanized version of the popular Japanese manga - Death Note.

Not an ardent follower of the original series (although I've seen a few episodes), I still felt like this Netflix adaptation could've been a lot better had it chosen to stick to its excellent source material. Wingard probably tried to leave his own signature when he took up this project as it feels more inclined to some of his earlier films than the Ohba-Ohbata creation. While the series positioned itself in a psychological/fantasy thriller territory, this version adopts a more gore-horror approach fused with an undercurrent of dark humour.

It is also because the originals are considered "cult-classic" material that this film feels heavily clunky. The names of the lead characters have been borrowed from the series but there's clear evidence of the writing department doing their own bit of tweaking when it comes to their behavior and motives. When Light Turner gets a book that lets him rid the world of anyone he knows by name and face, he (and later his romantic interest) decide to take matters into their own hands by killing off a bunch of baddies (400+ in number, as some of them keep reinstating), making the world a better place to live in. When things happen at such a rapid pace not allowing the viewer to assimilate, it doesn't add a great deal to the overall experience.

While the film enjoys bragging about its universality and international connections, at the end of the day, the core turns out to be about personal angst and jealousy between two individuals who happened to have fallen for each other. There's some atrocious dialogue as well, supplementing said claim. When the discernible link between morality and mortality begin to show signs of dwindling, the story itself plunges into plain boredom, leaving the viewer uninterested in the fate of the lead characters and the supposed twists in store. The film focuses very little on the actual dilemma faced by Light (said to be a loner nerd) in choosing his victims, instead places higher emphasis on a romance that more or less looks like 'taking advantage of each other'.

It also doesn't help when there's plenty of unresolved mystery with respect to some of the main characters. Like Mia, for instance. The rationale behind some of her decisions looks phony as hell, and feels more like plot-convenience to make Light look like a stronger character in comparison. L, the independent investigator's back- story is also not fully explored into. Maybe a sequel will tell.

Coming to the technical side, the VFX at times looks pretty B- movieish (on the lines of Final Destination) while music and cinematography do not really accentuate the ordeal. Wingard's eye for uncanny imagery and Willem Dafoe's voice for Ryuk are in fact the film's strong-points.

Verdict: Not sure about this one leaving an impression on either fans or non-fans!