“Death Note 2”, the second live action film in the wildly popular Japanese manga/anime/film series, picks up right after the events of the first film, with the main cast at “The Funeral”. If you don’t know what I’m referring to – close this review and go watch the first movie now. The first 10 minutes of the film are spent catching the viewers up with the events from the first film – but it doesn’t really help, you don’t know the characters yet, this film isn’t going to make a lot of sense.
DN2 does the standard sequel routine and for the most part, does it right! The concepts from the first film are elaborated on, and expanded. The schemes are bigger, the stakes are higher, and the twists are twisty-er. A new Death God is introduced along with a new Notebook.
Much like the first film, the plot revolves around Light, the supernatural killer codenamed “Kira” and L, the teen savant detective in a battle of wits. In fact the film almost collapses under the weight of its own convoluted plot twists. Almost, but when the final pay off comes into play its effective and exciting.
The cast from the main film returns, with Tatsuya Fujiwara, reprising his role as Light, Ken'ichi Matsuyama as L, and Takeshi Kaga as Light’s father, Detective Yagami. Erika Toda who played a bit part in the first film as Misa the Sweets Cook, returns in an expanded role as the Second Kira. The cast continues to play their roles with sincerity, although the performances through out seem a little bigger, keeping with the rest of the escalation employed by the sequel. The CGI Death Gods still look fantastic but their characters are exaggerated and thus lose their some dramatic effectiveness as a result.
The film continues playing on the concepts of moral ambiguity and celebrity, and takes both further than the first film. For the most part this works, like L’s willingness to imprison and borderline torture innocent people in his quest to capture when the Death Note ends up in the cut throat world of broadcast television.
The film runs long, and wanders a bit in the middle, but the final act is packed full of reveals and thrilling power plays.
“The Las Name” isn’t as good as the first Death Note Film, but it does take the viewers for a ride, and doesn’t tarnish the reputation of the first one. In fact there is a third film in the series, a sequel/spin-off(?) That focuses on L’s adventures, which I am very interested in seeing. But, “Death Note 2: The Last Name” finishes up the main story in a satisfying way and left me curious to see more – and that’s about as much as you can ask of any sequel really. If you are at all a fan of the first one – check this one out.