Power can be a tricky thing. For those who have it they don’t want to let it go and for those who want it, they will do whatever it takes to get it. What if you had the power to end someone’s life? I am not talking about you standing over someone with a gun, but something else. Where all you had to do is write their name in a notebook, picture them, and say how they will die and it would happen. The use of this kind of power is explored in Adam Wingard’s new film for Netflix, “Death Note.”
Light Turner (Nat Wolff) is one of those smart/loaner kids we all knew in high school. Of course with a name like Light you can see why. While everyone else is doing things like playing sports and such, he does homework for other kids, presumably for those kids playing said sports. Light’s life is about to change as a book falls out of nowhere for him to find. The book has the title of “Death Note” and a whole bunch of rules in it. When he starts to read them, a creature named Ryuk (William Dafoe) appears and tells him what the book does and how to use it. Not wasting time, Light decides to try it out on the school bully who loses his head over the experiment.
Not being a bad guy Light goes home and sees a hostage situation on TV and decides to end it with the new book he found. Soon Light is killing bad guys left and right, including the man who killed his mother. Light is not doing it alone as he has help. Wanting to be cool I can only assume he tells a girl named Mia (Margaret Qualley) about his doings and together they start taking more people out. Soon they take a name to spread fear among the bad people if the world, but what it does instead is get the attention of the police and a super detective named L (Lakeith Stanfeild). It becomes a race against time to catch Light or if his conscience will stop him and his newfound power.
This is one of those “on paper” movies where the idea sounds good, but then when you see it you realize it doesn’t quite work out. Based on the manga turned anime TV series with the same name that ran on 2006-2007, “Death Note” the movie tries to tell a story that took thirty-seven episodes in only an hour and forty minutes. On top of that, they made the characters not very likeable and whom you wish would write their own name in the book to spare us. Winegard who seemed to be rewriting the course of horror movies with films like “You’re Next” and “The Guest” has started to make some questionable decisions of late. With last years terrible “Blair Witch” sequel, and now this
Fitting so much story into one movie was the true mistake, as “Death Note” would have been a much better as a Netflix series than movie. Instead what we get is something that really isn’t worth the time to watch. Everything seems to move too fast and while it is easy to understand what is going on, taking more time with the characters and letting the story stew a bit longer would have been better. Netflix has been doing well with with the movies they have released and everyone deserves a misstep here and there. “Death Note” is that misstep and like the first victim in this movie, “Death Note” deserves the same fate.