By Ian Morton
Death Note is easily one of the better Netflix originals but an overly fast pace paired with a lack of depth might leave some audiences looking for a little more.
Based on the manga series of the same name, Death Note follows high school student, Light Turner as he discovers a mysterious book that grants its user the ability to kill anyone they choose. Determined to make the world a better place, Light soon finds himself under investigation by a mysterious detective known only to the world as ‘L’.
Topping many a peoples watch lists, director Adam Wingard has given us some of the most interesting and provocative films in the last few years with a signature style of taking expectation and flipping it on its head. Distinctive in style, the artistic director was certainly one of the stronger choices to direct a live-action Death Note – it’s just a shame that it doesn’t quite equal his usual standards.
Getting a good start, the plot blasts from the gate at break neck speeds, barely taking a breath as it races past potential character development in favour of its central story. While on one hand this plunges the viewer in head first without hesitation, the backlash is that we never truly get to delve into anything other than what’s happening on screen.
By the time you reach the half way point, you realise the sense of urgency is down to one key issue – it’s just trying to fit too much in. Creatively overstuffed, although never quite tripping over itself, you soon discover the lack of depth is purely down to too much being covered, frequently gleaning over some of the more intriguing ideas in order to get to the end game. Clearly set in a world of almost limitless possibilities consequently leads the story to cram in much more than is necessary.
Despite all its nuances however, Wingard does somehow manage to keep things on track. Although constantly fearful that the story will unravel, things do wrap up nicely with a suitable ending. Fairly point and shoot in terms of its visuals, we are treated now and again to some of the directors signature styling’s that certainly give the film a certain appeal. While it would probably be best to go in knowing the manga, all the key plot points seem to be included, so those that might not necessarily know as much as they should (myself included), needn’t fear being left in the dark.
Overall, in spite of its issues, Death Note is an easy watch that will manage to entice a new audience to the series. While it certainly seems to skip over some of the more interesting story arcs to focus on the central plot, the finished feature does get from beginning to end without really falling over along the way. 2.5 out of 5.
Death Note is a Netflix original and should be available now!
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