L: Change the World

The elusive, eccentric, sugar craving super sleuth L has returned, this time in his own movie as a derivative to the Death Note manga/anime (and also live action) series. This is the third of the live action films, where the previous two have met much success and following. L is a figure shrouded in total secrecy and we now see him out from the shadows to experience events he himself is not use to.

With the ever-pervasive iciness of his deductive reasoning, L contends not just with a single villain, but several. L must deal with a wicked band of biological terrorists plotting to “purify” the Earth with a new potent virus. L must stand-alone for the first time and time is of the essence.

The film opens with the last twenty-three days of Detective L’s life, discovering in Thailand, a young boy who has become the sole survivor of the deadly virus’ test run. The flesh eating virus devastates an entire village and another operative in L’s force- Agent F, places the boy eventually in L’s care.

L names the child Near, and the boy is quite L-like in his astuteness and propensity for memorizing numbers. Taking another child in tow, an elementary school girl named Maki. L becomes a reluctant protector and awkward big brother to both kids.

The cat and mouse play of psychological chess seems to be missing in this film as is evident with the previous Death Note films. L battled Light Yagami, his great nemesis with not guns, but sheer intellect, which has been the hallmark or calling card for the Death Note series. We do have that somewhat in this film, but not as much as expected. So, it’s disappointing in that respect as far as strong characterizations. Sure, we care but…not that much.

Ken’ichi Matsuyama as L is still delightful as the modern day Sherlock Holmes assisting world intelligence communities with their crimes simultaneously (while devouring a monstrous lollipop). L maintains his uncanny savoire-faire as events heighten to catastrophic proportions. What doesn’t maintain is the excitement as in previous films of the series.

The film plays off more like a standard police drama than a psychological thriller. As a police drama, equipped with chases and explosions, it works well. There’s a touch of gore as well as Director Hideo Nakata, noted for directing the original, “The Ring”, helms the film. All in all, it’s entertaining but lacks the “oomph” it is noted for.

Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars


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Tobe R. Roberts

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