'Death Note' (2017) Review

'Death Note' (2017) Review
A Mediocre Teen Horror-Drama That Wastes Incredible Potential

Rating: ★★½

Having been adapted a large fifteen times into different media (including, but not limited to, anime, Japanese live-action films and even a musical in 2015) after the original manga was released in December of 2003, the popular 'Death Note' series had its inevitable Western take in 2017. Based on the same name, the Adam Wingard-directed feature follows an American highschooler named Light Turner as he comes into the possession of a supernatural notebook called the Death Note that grants him the power to kill any person by simply by writing their name down on its pages.

The movie is at its strongest when it explores its KILLER premise (pun intended). It has a lot of potentials and some of the concepts it draws from the idea of a notebook that grants the writer the ability to kill anyone are interesting. Sadly, the movie doesn't fully take advantage of them. It is always great to see movies or tv shows go down a different route when adapting beloved source material and this reviewer believes this film would have benefited from doing so. It would have been awesome to see an anthology mini-series where each episode explores different and unique ways people would use the titular notebook. Instead, we have this teen horror-drama.

Competently shot and solidly acted, 'Death Note' isn't as bad as some may say (but take that with a grain of salt given this reviewer has no previous history with the other versions). Its premise is filled with incredible possibilities, some of which are showcased, and the story can be quite entertaining at points but this American adaptation of the Japanese manga is ultimately let down by mediocre screenplay that doesn't fully tap into its excellent premise, rushed structure, out-of-place 80s soundtrack and choppy editing. It is worth a watch for the premise and concepts alone but there is no guarantee you'll enjoy the movie as a whole.