The sequel to the highly successful film based on the Japanese manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, “Death Note”, catapults us back into the forefront of the cat and mouse game of L and Light. Helmed once again by Shusuke Kaneko, the plot makes for a wildly engaging, nail biting experience. The manga, which is a hit, sold 26 million copies worldwide and has finally made the transition to the silver screen to unprecedented success.
On one side, we have top of his class, college student, Light Yagami (played viciously by Tatsuya Fujiwara), popular, athletic and intelligent. Only issue with Light is that he believes criminals should be brought to swift justice. It’s not
only because his father is a high-ranking official in the police department, but also just one day, a book fell from the sky called a Death Note.
The black notebook dropped by a Shinigami, god of death named Ryuk, (who looks like very curiously like a metal head with Goth leanings). Taking this incident in full advantage, Light begins to read about the rules of the Death Note and begins his killing spree as “Kira (Killer)”, with a certain satisfaction of a kid in a candy store. Hot on his tail is the master sleuth with a penchant for going barefooted and eating sweets, L (played enigmatically by Kenichi Matsuyama). Both characters exude a dynamic persona and each is the flip side of the other, without an L, there is no Light, and vice versa.
Light continues his quest to destroy L, his arch nemesis by attempting to find out his true name, since L uses false names to avoid being written into the death note and systematically put to death. This ever-elusive strategy L uses is akin to a sidewinder snake that will go in one direction and in the blink of an eye, evade you by going in the opposite direction. Such are the tactics of L, and Kira needs to be one step ahead, this time he uses a model/celebrity who has a crush on him, named Misa Amane.
Misa is also gifted with a death note by Rem, an equally fearsome shinigami, decked out in white with feline like eyes. He is more ruthless than Ryuk, Light’s god of death and seems to lack a sense of humor, like Ryuk has. Nevertheless, Rem will let nothing harm Misa, whom he must protect. Both shinigami’s resemble their likeness in the original manga and the actors play off them perfectly, no campiness here.
Misa, in honor of her savior, Light (who unbeknownst to him, killed a criminal who killed Misa’s parents), begins her own killing spree in order to lure Kira out in the open, so that she me ally with him. Kira/Light has his own ideas about it and for the time being, will have Misa, serve his purpose…which is to kill L. L continues his idea of suspecting Light as Kira, invites him on the task forces headed by Light’s father to catch Kira. Keeping his still close at bay, L is hoping to apprehend both Kiras, and even a third, which surfaces. The stakes become very high this time around, and Kira becomes more vicious as the death note seems to possess his very soul.
The movie is as suspenseful as the original times ten. The plot twists so much it becomes difficult to ascertain which way the story is moving but that’s the beauty of it. It does not lose you but it gracefully maneuvers you into the next plot point and conflict. There is so much tension between L and Light, the energy between them is staggering. Brilliant portrayals by both actors. Plus, a theme song supplied by none other than the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were happy to be part of the phenomena.
Weak: 1 Star Average: 2 Stars Good: 3 Stars Very Good: 4 Stars Excellent: 5 Stars