SPOILERS, SPOILERS. TRUST ME YOU DON’T CARE.
Since it went over so well last time, we saw the film at the same place we watched the second Death Note movie. Once again not too crowded, though more so than when we went the other time. I didn’t go into this movie with many expectations, I had heard and read a bit about it before hand. Though frankly it would be hard for me NOT to go see a movie all about L. So with only mild hopes I braced myself for this film. Somehow the reviews didn’t do the movie justice. It was much worse than I could have imagined, it may have physically injured me at points. The only thing that prevented me from plain giving up on it was that I committed myself to writing this review! How dare you film, how dare you make me write a word against L!
W.C. Fields said, “Never work with animals or children.” L, or should I say Kenichi Matsuyama, should have listened to him. The fact an L movie was being made was hardly a surprise to anyone. He was clearly the most popular character hands down. They had the prefect place to add in one last hurrah before his ultimate end. When I first heard about the movie I was cautiously optimistic. L has to solve his last case against terrorists with a super plague having only a few days left to live. Sounds fine. Then I heard it was a stupid action movie. I was fine with that. Although L was almost always playing mental games in the manga, they also made a big deal that he was amazingly physically fit and even a martial arts master. I thought that people went into the movie expecting another mind game but got a cheesy action movie and were overly harsh. No they were overly generous. Everything that could make a movie bad was bad in this lemon of a movie. When my favorite original character was a vehicle you know you are in trouble. And before you ask it was not a cool talking car.
After catching Kira by writing his own name in the Death Note, L is only left with 23 days to live. L spends his remaining days solving all the unclosed cases he can. During this blaze of glory, a young girl and a small boy get L involved with a terrorist group that plan to cleanse the earth of wicked humans to save the environment with a super virus. L must protect the unnamed boy who survived the destruction of his village by the virus and the girl named Maki Nikaido whose father had developed the antidote. After her fathers destroys the only working antidote, the terrorists must get Maki for their plans to succeed.
I wasn’t looking for another Death Note like case, but I can imagine that some people were so they went with something world threatening again. This is where my understanding for choices in this film stops. The plot just keeps running along making no sense. It also doesn’t utilize L for any real reason, he uses almost no logic to solve things. Worse is that he does things and you wonder, “How in the hell did he know that?” which he does in the other works, but he explains how he knew. Here there is none of that. How did L know where Maki was when she ran away? Why did he build that small magnetic device? He is just psychic apparently. Also calling this an action movie is laughable. I too would have accepted, L Secret Agent, but that doesn’t happen either. I think Kenichi’s comment in the extras was rather telling of what was going on. He basically said they wanted him to be a different L than his vision of him in the first two films. So he did his best to compromise but keep L true to form. Kenichi was not the problem with this film, that is for sure. Throwing in the random action scenes didn’t help either. Especially when they make no sense, like in the first one where the helicopter just stops shooting for 5 minutes so the little boy can escape. Or in the final airplane scenes where the terrorists switch from gung-ho to timid and back again at the drop of a hat. P.S. How did L have a bag full of the anti-dote when but moments before he was asking the doctor to make as much as he can? It would have been better if they had given up on trying to make this plot work and just had L sitting in his lair. Possibly the best part, and most indicative of what I would want to see in the last 23 days of L, is when he solves a giant stack of cases from agencies all over the world in a day.
They couldn’t have tried harder to make a worse bunch of original characters. They team up L with kids for most of the movie. Making child characters enjoyable and authentic is obviously a challenge this movie was not up for. The little boy that falls into L’s care is mostly annoying or silent and never anywhere in between. Maki is slightly better since she is older but is sill irritating. They are mainly there to bond with L and bring out his humanity and other such sappiness. Go away. Then about half way through the film they introduce a random FBI agent, Hideaki Suruga, out of nowhere. He literally just bumps into them in a scene that is extremely out of place and then proceeds to do next to nothing. The crew of villains is a rouges gallery of mediocrity. Kira was a good villain if sometimes comically hammy. Misa Misa was at least fun to hate for being one of the most horrible female characters ever. These guys are not even worth the bile. I knew Daisuke Matoba that the guy with scarred eye was going to kill the professor that started the terrorist group because you never give a guy an eye scar like that and them not have him in the rest of the movie. Other than that he was mostly there to be angry and kick stuff like a petulant child when their plans were foiled. The other villain that is (not?) worth mentioning is, Hatsune Misawa, the ax crazy girl. While everyone else has guns, for some reason she insists on using knives to kill everyone. Theoretically this could lead to some cool action scenes but it comes off more comical than anything else. All the other terrorists are just lame and bland. The biggest crime of the cast is most of them are UTTERLY unimportant. You could have cut the cast by 3/4 by just combining characters together or eliminating them and been fine. The only likable new character was the Angel Crepe truck. Apparently L’s mobile office is a tricked out Crepe truck. It’s sad the truck has more character than the human cast.
For some reason we spend a good 50% of the time with other characters. If you’re making an L movie because he is so darn popular, put him in it more! None of these newbies are interesting, especially the kids. I would rather L have gotten an animal sidekick in this film! What they add to this film is awkward and annoying in equal amounts. The constant bonding scenes of L with these children are just plain weird, which possibly makes since because L is awkward. However, it’s the children that come off as the weirdos. Running around, screaming, crying, randomly doing things. L as Mister Mom was not exactly the movie I was hoping for. Other side characters include: some doctors, one of which is killed in a most hysterically cheesy horror movie death scene; a total Matsuda ripoff, and for the love of Gackt I can’t figure out why anyone would want to do that since Matsuda offers nothing either; and K, who if you couldn’t figure out from the opening credits was going to be the main villain because, that’s right, her initial is K. Let me just mention that they guy with the eye scar, I couldn’t look at him without thinking about the villain in Casino Royale.
Oh, what went wrong with this movie? There are blanket problems: huge plot holes, corny dialog, boring action scenes, bad pacing, poorly developed characters, and just plain irrational character decisions. Why does Maki’s dad know to destroy the antidote before the terrorists arrive? Why does L instantly trust the FBI guy for no adequately explained reason. Then they are just all the silly moments. The part where Daisuke Matoba decides to go into his apparent magic murder box a whips out a knife to kill his boss. Also Maki’s father finally dies after infecting himself with the virus when they hit the “Give him a Highlander style Quickening death” button. Also L’s two major actions scenes are major lame sauce. So they even messed up the one thing that could have saved the film from being an utter disaster.
At the end there are extras, these were probably the best extras of all three films which is kind of ironic. Though I wanted to smack the English voice actor for L as he tried to imitate L for some God forsaken reason. You sir are not Kenichi, just stop! Other than that they have a good amount of Kenichi talking about what its been like playing L. He rather touchingly says that L has been a big part of his life that he won’t ever forget. Also it has some behind the scenes footage and talking with the director. This movie didn’t have to be bad . . . terrible . . . painful. The biggest mistake was taking the focus off of L. Which seems like a stupid mistake considering the reason it was made was because everyone loves L. Essentially this film has all the oddities of L (like his posture, his eating habits, etc.) but lacks the inner spirit of L. It comes off as a caricature of L and not the authentic thing. It’s a rather tragic end to the live action movies as I think the other two are very, very good.
The funny thing is there is nothing wrong with any individual piece of the movie in theory. However, everything in the movie is so poorly executed it is a train wreck from start to finish. This movie fails on almost every level possible but I must go out of my way to mention its greatest crime is a crime of omission (which is quite an accomplishment considering how much they did wrong.) L hardly does any detective work and does not solve a single puzzle on his own. I would have easily accepted L running around being a ninja secret agent as long as they had him use his brain as much as his body. But he does next to nothing. He mostly stands around while things unfold around him. He very occasionally steers things toward the correct conclusion. All the major puzzles are solved by other characters which is sort of against the general concept of L. They should have just animated the Death Note novel. That would have been worth watching. This is not even worth bringing up.