Director – Shusuke Kaneko
Cast – Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Takeshi Kaga, Erika Toda, Shigeki Hosokawa, Shunji Fujimura, Shidô Nakamura, Sota Aoyama, Shin Shimizu
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Death Note, Shusuke Kaneko’s live action adaptation of the popular anime series of the same name, remains one of my favorite Japanese films of all time, and one of my favorite horror watches as well. Five months after the release of Death Note we were treated to the final stretch of the saga between Light and L, Death Note: The Last Name. Delivering the same cat and mouse antics between the two bright minds as well as more horrific insight into crime and punishment, this sequel gives fans of the first entry everything they could ask for, and delivers an engaging watch despite its 140 minute runtime.
Continuing where the first film left off, Light has joined forces with L’s task force to find Kira and put an end to his reign of once thought provoking yet now reckless vigilantism. Light plans to use his inclusion in L’s task force to avert L’s suspicion of him being Kira and sell the idea that someone else is behind the mass murdering of Japan’s criminals. However, the clever L never leaves a stone untouched, and the war between the two minds commences.
If you enjoyed the first Death Note then you are sure to enjoy what Death Note: The Last Name has to offer. Every time that I view these films I am utterly captivated by the mind game going on between Light and L, which is made even more awesome when you consider what each of them stands for in their ideology of justice. The storyline is awesome thanks to Light and L being paired together to catch Kira, whom they both know is sitting in the very same room they are in. This ups the tension and the ante, and creates for some awesome conflict and character usage as the film progresses. Numerous twists and turns are presented to us from a number of characters, all of whom contribute well to the film and do not come off as useless as we see in many other films trying to employ more characters than it can handle. For a 140 minute film to run as smoothly as this one did it has to have a tight screenplay, and the film’s writers(who also wrote the original anime series) delivered just that.
Shusuke Kaneko’s direction is top-notch, and he once again delivers a very fun film to watch. His execution of the mind game between Light and L is awesome, and he gets good performances from the rest of his acting crew in each of their respectable roles. Incredible sets adorn the film, and Kaneko’s camerawork aids in bringing he sets to life. This film is a fun film to watch due to the fun yet dark atmosphere given to us, and he continues his shout-outs to the anime series with more anime-looking reapers, which really do look like they are portrayed by live-action animatronics. The deaths in the film are pretty tame in comparison to pretty much any standard horror film, but in all actuality the film is not about the horror of so many people dying, but the horror behind why they are dying. It is a unique way of looking at things, and is one of the biggest reasons behind the success of this awesome series.
Overall, this is an awesome sequel to one of my favorite horror films of all time. While not at as awesome as its predecessor, Death Note: The Last Name is still an awesome watch on its own thanks to its unique storyline continued from the first entry, as well as Shusuke Kaneko’s excellent direction and great performances from Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light and Ken’ichi Matsuyama as L.