Went out and saw “Deathnote 2: The Last Name” last night. What can I say? More twists and turns that a Dallas season-ender. Granted, no bugger came back from the dead via a shower – in fact, no-one came back from the dead at all. Or did they? Or did they? OR DID THEY? (Ta, Fry and Laurie. Just cannot do that line wiowt wetting meself.)
Ok, basics: Light-O is now bent on killing L, ostensibly to stop the geeky little oik from exposing the real identity of ‘Kira’ (Killer). Or is he? In the meantime, Light-O lulls L into a fall sense of security, getting him to trust him, and even – in a rather garish but breathtaking twist of fate – having L put his very life in Light-O’s hands… Or did he? Or did he? OR DID HE?
Cue the introduction of millions n hundreds of new, important characters, and all manner of side-plots and tiny details suddenly coming into focus to make you realise you’ve been had. Completely. You thought the ‘Ocean’s 11’ remake was full of twists and turns, sneaky snaffoos and downright wool-over-the-eyes cinema? You ain’t seen nothing, mate. This film makes you try and follow so many different ideas so quickly, chopping and changing so bloody fast, it makes yer head spin. Try and follow it all, yes. Try and out-smart or even predict summat, bloody hell no.
And that’s what I love about both this one and number one (‘Deathnote’). You have to think: for two hours yer feverishly trying to work out who’s putting one over on who, and who you want to succeed. I found and dumped allegiances quicker than a Take That fan, I can tell you. While ‘Deathnote’ part one was noticeably less convoluted and more based on the characters themselves, this one downshifted into screaming 7,000rpm territory, relying on good-old-fashioned “will he – won’t he?” ploys and furious one-upmanship that actually came down to survival rather than preening. It was slick, well-acted, and gave the appearance of running on nervous energy, when in fact it was the coolest bit of deductive reasoning and the best use of cause-and-effect (and in fact the best display of downright crafty planning) since ‘Sleuth’ and ‘Death by Murder’ all rolled into one. Imagine Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty on Speed, and you’re half-way there.
The cast is fab, Fujiwara Tetsuya (remember him from ‘Battle Royale’?) is cute as a button even when filled with infinite rage, and Nakamura Shido (yes, Tanaka from the recent Jet Li flick, ‘Fearless’) does an excellent voice for Ryuk, one of the handful of gods of death that we see.
I have to warn anyone that feels the need to watch this right now, due to what I’ve said: if you don’t buy into the whole ‘there’s a god of death flapping about behind me, except only those who’ve touched the Deathnote can see him’ thing, then don’t bother. The gods that stroll about as they please (pretty much like Xena’s Greek gods, except for the aforementioned being-invisible detail) are the cutting edge of coolness for me ~ but I’m betting a lot of people (Granny W?) will look at it and just go: “you’ve got to be joking me”. No, they’re not ‘creepy’, unless you call a ten-foot tall Goth-type chain-wearing skeletal character wearing an evil Joker-style grin creepy. It looks like CGI, cos that’s what it is. Don’t expect ‘Jurassic Park’ SFX here, it’s in it fert plot, not to win Oscars fer the SFX department bods. That said, they do look like walking cartoons, fab recreations of comic book characters, and that scores points wi me, I'm afraid. They're not supposed to be of this world, so why make them look like real people? Anyway, the scary thing is finding this one, lone human who thinks he can outsmart everyone – including gods of death – and manipulate everyone to do his bidding. But has he lost sight of what he was doing it for int first place? And who said it was ok to summarily put down criminals anyway?
Fabbest of the fab, this film is going to keep me thinking and calling me Japanese mate, with whom I saw it last night, fer weeks. I can see I’m going to have to sit down and crack open them comic books I’ve got, to re-read the plot and make sure I understood everything.
Oh, wait. I’m off to see ‘The Prestige’ later today. Oh, the pressures of squeezing two films into a weekend that’s officially only 36 hours long…
Peach and lube!
Deathnote ~ Deathnote 2 ~ Fujiwara Tetsuya ~ Battle Royale ~ Stephen Fry ~ Hugh Laurie ~ Sherlock Holmes ~ Jet Li ~ Fearless ~ Xena ~ Sleuth ~ Asian Cinema ~ Hong Kong