Netflix’s Death Note Will Make You Want To Write Your Own Name In The Book
The Netflix Original Death Note film is now forever real and forever bad. Surprised? Of course not. Going through multiple directors, including Shane Black and Gus Van Sant, and a plethora of script changes, the project seemed doomed from the very start. Let me take you on a journey of missed opportunities and a failed understanding of everything that made the original work so memorable. I present to you, scene by scene, Death Note. This is also an annoying title that I now have to differentiate with a year and a “but the source material is better” phrasing.
The film opens with a sky shot of Seattle, complete with the Space Needle. This is followed by shots inside a school hallway with students, police arresting people, a train yard, and the first of far too many Dutch angles camera shots. Cheerleaders practice on the field. Football players throw a ball. It’s a fucking high school, we got it. One of the cheerleaders, Mia Sutton, isn’t really participating. When she’s lifted, she blows a strand of hair in disgust and boredom. She is then smoking a cigarette while cheering. She really doesn’t give a fuck. Light Turner, the film’s protagonist I think, is doing homework nearby. He has bleached hair and is cool. Another student comes up to him, takes the homework, and pays him money discreetly. Light is helping students CHEAT. What an ANTIHERO! Mia leans on the fence and gives him a flirty smile. Light looks confused, which will not be the first time his face contorts in baffling ways throughout this shitshow. The title of the film then comes across the screen in a weird, edgy fashion, contrasting with everything we’ve just seen.
It’s been two minutes now. Within two measly minutes, the writers of this train wreck, which is three goddamn people by the way, have sufficiently demonstrated that they have no clue what they’re doing, have no understanding of the manga or anime which the movie is based on, and clearly don’t give a single shit. We are two minutes in. No one has even talked yet. No one has uttered a word and it’s already a 1 out of 10. Moments later, a big, cool, scary storm moves in! Ahhh watch out for that SpOoOoOoOkY rain! Mia just walks away because she has no fucks to give. Light bolts around a corner just in time to see a bully push a fuckin’ LOSER NERD WITH GLASSES out of a door. This is the first dialog we hear in the film. It consists of “little bitch” and “whoopsie-daisy”, with the bully throwing away the poor nerd’s backpack and stealing his money. Mia then pushes the bully, whose name is Kenny, and calls him a stupid fuck.
“What did you just call me?”
“I called you a stupid fuck, fuck!”
Yes, those are first clearly heard lines of the film. I wish I was kidding, but it only gets worse from here. Kenny pushes Mia to show he’s a strong male and won’t take any shit and Light decides now is a good time to yell at full volume, “HEY DON’T TOUCH HER!” and throw his arms out like he’s shielding her from violence. See, he’s the hero here. Defending the downtrodden or whatever. He makes fun of Kenny for being held back in school, something about child abuse, and then he mercifully gets punched in the face. He comes to as an adult, who isn’t at all worried about a student passed out in the rain at school, picks up the homework he’s been doing for other students and gives him a “you fucked now” look. Great, good. Perfect writing.
The principal, I guess, berates Light for cheating and shit. Light wonders why no one is concerned as to why he was found sprawled out on the ground. The plot doesn’t care. “All I’m trying to say is, you have the chance to stop the type of people who make things hard for everybody. You gotta see the big picture here,” says Light. Yikes, on the nose. The principal exposition dumps about Light’s mother passing. It’s contrived and out of place. He then doesn’t give a fuck and hands him two weeks of detention. The camera hard pans to the right and everyone watching is confused.
Light puts some books away. The bell rings and here comes Mia Sutton, being all cool and shit with her cool friends. Light tries to flag her down, but Johnny Football comes and puts his arm around her, a character we never see again and doesn’t matter at all. That’s the end of that scene.
A door with the word “Detention” written on it is zoomed in on. Good, glad to know where we are. Light is asleep at a desk with an apple for no reason. There’s another Dutch angle. The teacher tells him not to sleep and that she’s leaving for a bit, which is a thing a teacher would definitely do. No one else in the entire school has detention I guess because Light is alone. He needlessly shoves his school books off the desk and pulls out the Death Note. He reads the first two rules. Rule 1: The human whose name is written in this note shall die. Rule 2: The note will not take effect unless the writer has the person’s face in their mind when writing his or her name. He flips though some pages. You can see the rule about people dying from heart attacks if a death is not specified, but that never happens in the film, so I don’t know why it’s there. However, remember this rule.
He turns to blank pages and THE LIGHTS BEGIN TO FLICKER. Suddenly, glass shatters and…marbles roll out? Fuckin’ what? Is this a horrible joke about losing your marbles? Don’t know, but it sure as hell isn’t good or clever. Light goes to the back of the classroom where there are lots of things in glass jars. From the shadows, an ominous creature with huge spikes jutting out in all directions emerges. It looks at Light. Nat Wolfe, the actor playing Light, thought it would be good to do this next:
Director Adam Wingard approved this, so he is as much to blame. What is this scene? Light in the original series is calm, cool, and collected. This mess, at a little under eight minutes in, completely undoes everything that Light is, as though that wasn’t already done in the previous opening moments. I understand that seeing something like would make anyone question a lot of things, but that reaction is downright comedic.
Ryuk, the God of death and instigator of Light’s scream, eats the apple on the desk because he did that in the Japanese version. He looks…not great. It’s CGI, for no reason, and he’s hidden behind shit, so it’s hard to tell really. Willem Dafoe has a good voice for it, but he’s undercut at every turn. He coaxes Light into writing the name of Kenny, the bully, into the notebook, followed by a cause of death. Kenny is outside literally beating up a girl so, I mean, fuck that guy. Seven more Dutch angle shots occur showing a string of events ending with a truck ladder flying off and decapitating Kenny in an extremely bloody fashion. It feels like it’s out of Final Destination, not Death Note. Ryuk clicks a pen at some point in this scene and…and just, why is this happening.
Compare all that shit to this:
Light figured out how to use the note on his own. Once he knew of its power, he dove in, killing those he deemed evil. He wanted to be a God, he wanted to rid the world of its rotten parts. The film’s Light hesitates to even kill Kenny, a complete cunt who hits TWO FUCKING WOMEN in a span of five minutes. His character is completely broken. The lights all come back on an Ryuk is gone. Whatever.
We go to Light’s house. He’s eating dinner with his dad as a train drives by. It takes…a very long time to pass. Everything shakes a lot. This is never touched on again. There is another Dutch angle. They talk about the murdered Kenny, the mom being dead because she was run over by some Mob Guy who got away scot-free, and other father/son bullshit that’s just not fleshed out at all. The dad is also a cop. Light gets mad and leaves, grabbing an apple before going upstairs. There is a weird close up of Cop Dad cutting a piece of meat.
Light reads more rules from the Death Note, none of which matter. He finds a scribbled memo that says “Don’t trust Ryuk. He is not your pet. He is not your friend.” This also doesn’t matter, but part of it will be contradicted later. Another train passes and his closet door opens slowly. It’s the first moment of actual tension and creepy horror, but don’t worry, they fuck it up immediately. Light puts the apple in front of the door. Does he even like apples? I don’t get this. Ryuk takes the apple and eats some of it. It’s dumb. Light makes a horribly inappropriate face, which is par for the course.
Ryuk explains more rules, like being able to control people for up to two days prior to their death. Light asks about the warnings against Ryuk, who just brushes them aside. Seems like a fucking problem, but Light ignores it. He finds Cop Dad’s newspaper clipping showing the face of the Mob Guy who killed his mom. After Ryuk again gives encouragement, fundamentally changing everything about who Light and Ryuk are, Light writes down the name and some other stuff we can’t see. We cut to a weird sepia toned scene in a restaurant where Mob Guy is eating with friends. He makes exaggerated faces and looks like an asshole. The acting is…Jesus, it’s fucking bad. A waiter trips on something, hits the Mob Guy, and he impales his throat on a steak knife. Blood goes everywhere as he chokes and dies and it’s hilariously off.
Cop Dad gets a phone call in the morning saying Mob Guy died. He has a small makeup scene with Light. He talks about the mom being a hippy, almost explaining away the name Light. It’s fine, with Cop Dad doing all the heavy lifting, played by Shea Whigham. Ryuk then does a weird and almost comedic step into frame after Cop Dad leaves the room and then laughs. The audience also laughs, but not for the same reasons.
We’re at the school gym now. Light is looking over the Death Note while people play basketball. Why is he here? What is going on? Oh, no time for that? Okay then. Mia is also there, I guess. They make fun of Kenny, who is dead. One of the dumbest things in the movie then happens.
Mia: What is it?
Light: What is what?
Mia: Your book.
Light: I can’t tell you.
Light: Do you really wanna know?
Light: Okay then I’ll tell you.
Those are real words spoken, poorly I might add, by actors who were paid to be a in a movie called Death Note made by Netflix. He takes her to a completely empty…cafeteria? I don’t know, does it even matter at this point? He hands her the book and warns her of Ryuk. She can’t see him, which is also not like the original series, and dumb. She decides to leaves. “No, no, don’t go. Trust me. You of all people are gonna wanna see this.” Of all people? Light doesn’t even know Mia at this point, what assumptions is he making here? Doesn’t matter, we don’t ever know!
Light has a laptop randomly and pulls up a live hostage situation in action. To prove how the book works, he writes down events that occur in real time and then shows her what he wrote. The criminal steps out and is struck by a police van and splits in half. Also it’s only been twenty-five minutes. That’s all the time that has passed. There’s still more than an hour left of this film. Help.
Light and Mia walk in slow-motion as the camera, true to form, goes Dutch. Light is unsure of how to feel now that he’s a murderer, but Mia says they could change the world. She actually says change the world, I’m not making that up. Light stumbles around like a fucking idiot because a girl wants to spend time murdering people with him. It’s so awkward and terrible. They go back to his house. Light, apparently a Permission Lord, asks, “Can I kiss you?” “You’re not supposed to ask,” replies Mia. Oh my fucking God, kill me now. There is no chemistry here and the only reason they appear to be into one another is because they are fans of slaughtering people with a book. A montage follows in which the following happens:
– Looking at one another longingly in class
– “I think we can do a lot more than just settle some random scores.”
– Making out while picking people to murder
– A military man, presumably evil, is electrocuted to the point of fucking exploding
– Laughing on a bed together
– “Look at those people.” “They’re a bunch of sheep.”
– Light and Mia holding hands in school while the jocks look on, very upset about it
– Deciding to be a God for the people
– “A God that scares the shit out of the bad guys until they don’t wanna be bad anymore?”
– Coming up with the name Kira in the most haphazard way possible
– Killing members of “the cartel”
– A bunch of candles forming the word “Kira”
Kira is a household name now. At a nightclub in Japan, maybe, there are a lot dead people. They did not die kindly. The radio announcement says “more than a dozen” dead, and it’s a huge understatement. A man wearing all black, a hoodie, and a mask obscuring the lower half of his face talks in Japanese to another cop. He, somehow, had “access to law enforcement databases for some time” and tipped Kira off with…criminals or something? What? How does that answer anything? It doesn’t. But, mystery man knows who they’re looking for already! Deduction! The detective, known only as L, travels to Seattle. His assistant, Watari, is worried L isn’t sleeping enough. He tells him to prepare his body clock by putting on sunglasses that glow with a blue light. L then asks Watari to sing and, for some reason, he does.
This is not a deleted scene. This is in the movie. He sings to L. Anyway, Light is annoyed that his Cop Dad has been assigned to the Kira case. There is another weird close up of Cop Dad putting the coffee pot away that lasts barely a second. Why was that left in? He asks his son how he looks and then leaves.
Cop Dad shows up to the station. His office has been turned over. Apparently, police like Kira because he’s taking out the most wanted list. Watari appears and offers a meeting with L. They communicate through a computer. L slams his hand into a candy bowl and shit goes everywhere while he discusses his theory that Kira is operating out of Seattle. He wants Cop Dad’s help. The scene is fine, surprisingly, but ends with a jarring fade/cut into the school and we’re back to mediocrity. Mia has found a website with people just throwing up random names of people they want Kira to kill. Light seems to think it could be dangerous to kill people without proof, but Mia is just really into it, taking everything online at face value like an idiot.
Cop Dad meets with L. They are both good detectives and figure some shit out. It’s actually one of the few moments that L feels like L should. He then goes and makes a public statement to Kira. He pokes the microphone as though he’s never seen one. Not sure why that happens. L tells Kira he will soon be apprehended and taunts the vigilante to kill him. Light, not having his full face or name, cannot, and L deduces this as well. Cop Dad is impressed, but mostly annoyed, which is what I assume any audience member is feeling at this point.
Back at the house, Light tries to get info from his dad about L. When he attempts to pin Kira on L, Cop Dad says, “I don’t think so. He has a history of cracking big cases. Besides, I think you can tell when you’re SITTING ACROSS FROM A KILLER LIKE KIRA.” Now before you judge, the line isn’t all that bad. The issue is Nat Wolfe’s shitty fucking acting that comes after. He does a weird half-shrug thing, mutters “right, of course” and makes yet another dumb face. All the tension is gone, immediately, and a scene that could have had some depth is ruined. Light asks what will happen if they catch Kira. His father assumes people will either want to hang him or dissect him to figure out his methods. Both answers make Light pull a very concerned face, as though this is new information to him. How? How the fuck are you just now thinking about this? Goddamnit his whole character is just terrible.
L has FBI agents follow Light, who notices right away. Cop Dad is obviously mad, but L says everyone must be vetted and Light could have access to police databases. Light and Mia go to the Seattle Great Wheel and wear cool plastic sunglasses during overcast weather. Not suspicious at all. Light wants to lay low, but Mia just wants to kill all the FBI agents. Mia is acting more like Light from the original series at this point, albeit poorly. Later, as they watch news reports saying Kira has been inactive, Mia angrily runs upstairs to Light’s room and then returns later to leave. It’s pretty fucking obvious she did something, but Light just says, “There’s a guy on the news who killed a couple kids. Thought maybe we could make some popcorn, take some names down for later.”
Cool Light, that’s a thing people say.
At FBI headquarters, I’m assuming, we Dutch angle into police jargon. One of them has a heart attack. L is informed, and when he calls the other agents to warn them, they all begin to walk in synchronicity to the top of a building and jump to their death. It lasts about thirty seconds and, combined with the music, is really well done. You know they’re under control, and it’s fun to watch Death Note playing out in live action. However, it’s only thirty seconds.
Light and Mia yell about Ryuk killing FBI agents loudly in a crowded school hallway. That’s the end of that scene.
At home, Light confronts Ryuk about said killings. He never admits to it, but Light just believes it for some reason. He says he’s going to put Ryuk’s name in the book. “You could try! But I warn you…there are four letters in my name. Most anyone’s ever gotten…were two.” Remember when I said something would be contradicted later in the film?
Solid writing. Cop Dad makes a grand speech about Kira being a baddy bad guy on live TV. It’s not really clear why. Him dying wouldn’t really prove anything or help the case, it would just be another dead body. Mia wants to kill Cop Dad for brazenly mocking Kira, but Light shoots it down. L applauds Cop Dad’s bravery, and when he doesn’t die, he knows it’s Light. Bit of a stretch, but we’re working in tight confines here, so I get it. The bigger issue is why Cop Dad did it, because he doesn’t think Light is Kira. So really, he’s just dumb? At least he can act. Light hugs him when he returns home and it’s kinda nice.
Light is reading about Death Gods in a coffee shop, as one is known to do in Seattle. L just kinda appears and accuses him of being Kira. Although Light denies, he essentially implicates himself in the next minute. The conversation is extremely underwhelming and nothing really comes from it.
Light goes home and Mia tells him she loves him. They kiss in the rain. It’s as bad as it sounds and so very out of place. They decide they will make Watari becomes obsessed with revealing the true identity of L by writing only his first name in the Death Note. I guess you don’t need a last name? Sure as fuck did every other time, but WHO CARES. Watari, under control now, calls Light and says he doesn’t know the information. He gives a long-winded backstory to L about him being locked in a conditioning vault for seven months. Who gives a shit. Light tells him he must go find the old records and get a name ASAP before he dies in 48 hours.
A rule is also revealed here wherein you can burn one page of the Death Note and anyone on that page won’t die anymore. Light plans to do this because…he’s a good guy? It doesn’t really line up with anything and, as Mia points out, it’s entirely a loose end. Light also doesn’t specify the death and instead says, “dealer’s choice.” Jesus. Watari boards a train with a bad camera shot that surprisingly isn’t Dutch in any way. L just somehow knows that Watari being gone means Light had something to do with it and barges into the Turner home while they eat dinner with Mia. “Hello, nice to meet you. Leave?” L says to Mia. Sounds about right. L tells Cop Dad his son is Kira and is controlling Watari, a fact that Cop Dad still cannot see. They have a heated argument that ends with Cop Dad pinning L to the table and yelling a lot. It would be a lot better if it didn’t betray a lot of what makes up the character of L, because losing your cool is not something he does, but whatever, this whole movie is a mess at this point.
They search the house for evidence. Cop Dad says it has nothing to do with Light, then instantly asks if there’s anything he needs to know. Ryuk says if the book is found, it becomes his again, which is beyond untrue and completely made up. That just makes zero sense Ryuk. At this point, Ryuk has kinda done nothing. He appears sometimes and just says stuff. He doesn’t add a single thing. Cop Dad says something about choosing the lesser of two evils. It comes back later. Watari has driven to Montauk, NY, a drive that would take 44 fucking hours from Seattle. Technically, and I’m astounded to be saying this, he would not be dead yet. Light calls and asks if he has the info yet, and Watari says he will get it soon.
At school, Mia tells Light she has the Death Note and it’s safe. He gives him a suit and a top hat for the upcoming school dance and I felt sad because that’s what I probably looked like at my own homecoming.
A Dutch angle introduces us to a dilapidated building. Watari shoots the lock and chain with a gun, which, you know, fine I guess. He walks through hallways, lots and lots of Dutch angles. He finds a hole and goes down it. How he knows where any of this is or leads to is unexplained. Somewhere else, L talks to himself and then calls for the New York Field Office. Who cares.
Light and Mia arrive at the dance. Extremely generic and lame music plays and they take photos where they actually flip the camera off. Also, a Dutch angle occurs during the photo session. Back at the empty mansion, two guys with flashlights and guns show up behind Watari’s car. Who are they? Fuck you! Watari looks through files and shit. Intense music helps nothing. It’s so boring.
Mia brings some guy named Brandon over to Light and says she wants to dance with him. I don’t know why this happens. Light puts his cool ass top hat on Brandon and slaps his face. They go off to dance. Police, who are at the dance watching Light I guess, point a finger as if to say, “Yeah, the top hat is Light, that’s definitely him, we all have prosopagnosia apparently.” Light sneaks off into the school hallway. The next scene is he is running at full speed and slams into his locker. A sticker that says “normal people scare me” is inside, along with the Death Note. Great, just great. He calls Watari, who informs him he needs more time. “Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, forget it,” says Light, out loud, which he read from a script. He looks for the page he wrote the name on to burn it, but finds it’s been ripped out by Mia. Watari finds L’s file, but before he can reveal the real name, the two people with guns bust in the door and this happens:
The just ask for his name and kill him immediately. Logic? NAH. Ryuk laughs and mentions the dealer’s choice shit, but that doesn’t make sense because the fucking book has a rule about people just dying of heart attacks if nothing is specified. That page is shown in this movie. He never wrote dealer’s choice, and even if he did, fuck yourself that doesn’t fix anything. As if that weren’t bad enough, Light returns to the dance to slow-motion dancing and “Take My Breath Away” playing at full volume. He asks why Mia killed Watari, and she, for no real reason, reveals she masterminded the deaths of all the FBI agents by using a taser on agent Raymond Young, not Raye Penber like it could have easily been, and, like the original series, instructs him to write down the names of the Kira Task Force and tell them all to jump off a building.
Unlike the source material, this isn’t interesting. It’s done in a flashback, by the wrong character, and the Kira Task Force has no presence in the film at all. It weakens everything that makes Death Note work by not seeing how it was done as it was happening. Slamming everything into an Ocean’s 11 style “and that’s how we got away with the money” moment is dull, uninspired, and completely misses the tone, again. Also, up to this point, Mia and Light have displayed no skill at any of this, no intelligence levels beyond Light cheating for people, and nothing that would indicate her having any way of finding FBI agents, let alone killing them in a unique and untraceable manner.
Anyway, she wrote Light’s name in the book as well because she thinks he’s a pussy and demands he hand the book over to her, at which point she will burn his page. “There’s so many fuckin’ rules,” Light says. “Now go get my goddamn book,” Mia responds, and kisses him. Fuckin’…I cannot take this. Also this plan doesn’t work because Light is in possession of the book. He can just burn the page himself. What is her plan again, exactly? Why is Light even worried?
L finds out Watari is dead. Breaking his character yet again, he yells and gets a fucking gun. He also commandeers a police cruiser, slams into a parked car, and speeds down the road. Cop Dad calls in the squad to be on the lookout for the rogue L, who I guess everyone just knows what he did five seconds after it happened. He also tells them to put Light in protective custody. Some more Dutch angles as Light gets to a school computer and begins looking up names on the “Kira please kill these randos” website. Mia sees the police coming and sends Light a really cool texts.
Light continues writing names and seems distraught about it. I don’t know really, Nat Wolfe can’t act. He tells Mia to meet him at the Great Wheel. He runs down thirty alleyways. L drives his cop car like a madman. While yelling, he drives though a glass window with a sign that says “Drive Slow. Drive Safe” and it’s just so goddamn laughably stupid.
A really long chase scene happens, and it’s only interesting due to the fact that everything else has been the complete opposite. Lots of alleys, lots of running into people who are just standing in alleys, being out of breath, cool music, L pointing his gun not firing, etc. A man’s face is pushing into soup at one point. Near the end, Light goes downstairs and L goes upstairs. Magically, they both come out downstairs and the chase is over. Several police cars have seen Light running from them, so he’s got a lot of explaining to do. He doesn’t do that though. Fuck this movie.
Light tries to explain that “death can be handed out from a fucking calculus book,” which isn’t accurate, and L thinks he’s stalling. A random idiot comes into the alleyway, because of course that’s where they are, and L asks him to step back. “This man is Kira. I’m working with law enforcement in order to capture and elimin–” is all L gets to say before this guy just whacks him in the head with a piece of wood that I suppose you find on the street. “Lord Kira,” he says. Light takes the gun and runs away.
This idea of strangers coming to the aid of the person they believe in is great, it’s wonderful honestly, but the scene bungles it so badly that there’s nothing to be gained. Light doesn’t say a word, and this man has absolutely no proof that Light is Kira. None. He just makes a snap decision, in under three seconds, to knock out another complete stranger holding a gun who said he was with law enforcement. There could have been tense conversation, a back and forth where he weighs the options presented. Instead we get AHH BANG, FUCK OFF, LORD KIRA, BYE SEE YA.
Light runs like a maniac to the Great Wheel, hitting several people on the way. Like, more than anyone would hit while just running. People would get out of the way. It’s really dumb. He threatens the Ferris wheel operator with a gun, and he and Mia board. He shoots the controls for, as far as I can tell, no reason, then tosses the gun away. The Ferris wheel continues moving, I think, as if nothing happened. The police show up, Cop Dad yells Light’s name a lot.
Light wants to run away forever and never use the Death Note, but Mia says, “I don’t wanna run away! Now give me my FUCKING book, okay?” So polite! Light offers it up, but says that if she loves him, she must trust him. Which makes no sense. “Don’t take the book. Cause if you do…you’ll never see me again.” She cries, and actually says “I love you so much.” “You do?” Light replies, in the way only Nat Wolfe can poorly deliver. While Light is distracted momentarily from Cop Dad’s yells, Mia takes the book. Light is distraught, and Mia deduces he has put her name in the book. Then, and no one is really surprised at this point, Light makes no sense and the writers prove they have no love for what they’re adapting.
“You put my name in it, didn’t you?” says Mia. “It was only if you took the book and I thought I could convince you not to take it–” Light says, stupidly forgetting that what you put in the book will fucking happen as it’s written you goddamn idiot. “Are you kidding me, Light?” Mia responds, essentially acting as the audience now. They yell some more, it’s pointless. Ryuk appears and through magic, or something else that’s unexplained in this clusterfuck, he begins to destroy the Great Wheel.
Light screams his signature scream, Mia follows, the Ferris wheel falls apart. “Ryuk! I take it back! I take it back!” yells Light, which won’t make sense in five minutes. Mia falls and Light grabs her hand. Then, coupled with a perfect song, this happens:
I can’t even begin to explain how hard I was laughing. Slow-motion falling, ending with Mia hitting a flower bed and Light splashing into water, all while making the worst faces I’ve ever seen. Mia is clearly dead because she has some blood on her nose. To add to the nonsense, L shows up in a cop car, even though Cop Dad had an APB on him. Guess everyone forgot that part. He walks over just in time to see the page with Light’s name written on it fall directly into a fire in a can. Of course. A man in shadow picks up the Death Note, which floated to the shore. DUN DUN DUN.
In some board room, a bearded man we’ve never seen berates L for still thinking Light is Kira. He’s now in a coma and people have continued dying over the last 48 hours. L is stonewalled, so he decides to leave. In the hospital, shadow man appears and lays the Death Note on Light’s chest. Just out in the open. For everyone to see. While on the plane to go home, L remembers a sentence that Light said about death and calculus. He comes to some realization and stops the plane.
Light wakes up, looks confused, and hides the book. This also won’t make sense in a few minutes. Cop Dad comes in, looking RATHER sullen. “It was you. All along,” he says. Cop Dad presents the newspaper clipping of the Mob Guy from the beginning of the film, correcting surmising that he was the first kill from Kira. “How?” asks Cop Dad. “Do you really wanna know?” responds Light JUST LIKE HE DID WITH MIA WOW WHAT A CALLBACK. Light then explains an extremely complex string of ideas that he came up with in under a minute in a computer lab during the dance while police were coming down the hallway.
A doctor known for sexually assaulting women who are under sedation, will be present at the pier when two people will fall from a Ferris wheel. He will rescue and revive Light. Then, while being taken to the hospital, he will put Light in a medically induce coma for two days. The doctor will then kill himself. The man in the shadows turns out to be a mailman who molested a lot of kids. He is instructed to find the Death Note, continue writing names in it for the next two days, then return it to Light. He then kills himself. Mia Sutton will be killed when she takes the Death Note from her boyfriend. As she falls from the Ferris wheel, she pulls the page with Light’s name on it, which is consumed by fire. Light will hit the water, but Mia will hit the shoreline and die instantly.
During all of this information dump, L is seen breaking into Mia’s house. Apparently no one is home? He tosses her room until he finds the calculus book, which contains a page from the Death Note that has the names of the FBI agents on it. The entire scene is punctuated with the song “The Power Of Love” by Air Supply. No, I am not joking.
So, naturally, there are some issues with everything here. As discussed before, Light has displayed no intelligence regarding almost anything for the duration of the film. Someone mentioned he was a smart kid, and he cheated on homework. That’s it. He hasn’t done any kind of Death Noting this complex at all, and hasn’t shown he has any ability to do so. The FBI kills were Mia’s, which also didn’t make sense, and every other kill was just writing names down as they appear on the news. He thought of all of this at the dance in an extremely short period of time.
The mailman pedophile also doesn’t track. He gives the Death Note to Light, who we have to assume wakes up relatively quickly. If not, a doctor or nurse would have seen the goddamn thing. However, during the montage of explaining everything, mailman pedophile is shown killing himself by filling his car with noxious gas. In the daytime. This scene takes place at night. Where is the timeline here? Oh, there isn’t one? Right, I forgot, fuck me.
Finally, the entire scene on the Ferris wheel now make less sense, as if that were possible. Was he genuine about thinking Mia wouldn’t take the book? Did he want Ryuk to take it all back? Or did he just put on a show for absolutely no one. It didn’t matter what he said, no one on the ground could hear him. Light wouldn’t care. He would bask in the victory. Watch as his…uh…girlfriend died in front of him? Well, nothing makes sense anyway so I guess it doesn’t matter.
Light says something about trying to do the right thing. “I made a lot of mistakes. And then I tried to fix them but it didn’t work.” Wow, fucking wow. That is the best you could come up with? L looks at the Death Note page, then grabs a pen like he’s going to write a name. He just laughs instead. It almost works, but it doesn’t because nothing else works in this film. “It’s like you said. Sometimes you gotta choose the lesser of the two evils,” muses Light in yet another sick callback. “Which one are you son?” Cop Dad responds. This question, in a better Death Note film, could be a perfect ending. Ryuk laughs in the background, peaks in and says, “You humans are so interesting!” Dafoe delivers it perfectly.
HOWEVER, Air Supply is still playing, a goddamn final Dutch angle happens on Ryuk, and Light makes one more stupid fucking face before the scene hard cuts to credits. And it’s a weird, jarring cut in what feels like they just ran out of usable footage and had no other choice. Don’t worry though, they aren’t done fucking this dead corpse just yet! The credits also feature outtakes and behind the scenes clips! Air Supply is still fucking playing! The last shot is Mia doing a ballet spin in her room, which never happened! AHHHHHHHH!
So that’s Death Note. It’s real bad. Like, it misses every possible mark multiple times. I understand to a very small degree. It’s not an easy property to adapt, especially in an hour and forty minutes. But come on. No one follows their original character, there is no arc for anyone, shit makes no sense at every turn, and there are so many Dutch angles. Director Adam Wingard and writers Jeremy Slater, Charles Parlapanides, and Vlas Parlapanides all grabbed a pen and wrote the following statement in their own personal Death Note before filming began:
“The Netflix Death Note film will be a tone-deaf and misguided attempt at adapting a beloved anime and manga, complete with poor acting, terrible writing, and baffling directing. There will be so many Dutch angles. After release, it will slowly be pummeled by poor reviews until the film commits suicide in a way that nobody will be inconvenienced and the film will not be discovered ever again. It dies by implementing this plan within 48 hours.”
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