'Death Note': A Movie Review

Updated on December 11, 2018
ReelScreams profile image

Rekindling my love of horror and thriller movies, television shows, and sharing my thoughts with whoever may read them.

Light finds the Death Note in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.
Light finds the Death Note in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.

Story Summary

Light Turner is a high school student in Seattle, Washington who we immediately learn is very intelligent, or at least enough so to be trusted by others to do their homework for cash. While sitting outside, a sudden gust of wind carries a weathered leather-bound book and it falls to the ground next to the picnic table on which Light is sitting, 'Death Note' is imprinted on the cover. Curious, he grabs the book and runs for shelter out of the now heavy Seattle rain.

Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.
Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.

Mia is a cheerleader and a seemingly rebellious one at that. She's a smoker with the sleeves of her cheer shirt cut off and crosses her arms in defiance as other girls raise their arms in glee. Her first interaction with Light is during the rain storm when they witness a fellow classmate being bullied and robbed by two larger boys, a confrontation to which Mia intervenes and tries to help the bullied boy. The larger boy shoves Mia and Light jumps in help her, only to be knocked out cold by the larger bully.

Light awakens to a teacher looming over him, a stack of quizzes he'd finished for others next to him. While in detention for his cheating and left alone briefly, he decides to investigate the contents of the Death Note:

  • Rule 1: The human whose name is written in the note shall die.
  • Rule 2: This note will not take effect unless the writer has the person's face in their mind when writing his or her name.

Ryuk makes his first appearance in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.
Ryuk makes his first appearance in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.

Ryuk, the supernatural creature who carries out the deeds entered into the notebook, comes in like the aforementioned storm, causing panic and destruction within the walls of the detention classroom. Shaken, Light listens as Ryuk explain in more detail how the Death Note works, and how Light now has the power of the book as its keeper. Doubtful but intrigued, Light quickly writes the name of the bully in the notebook. Seconds later, the bully is no more.

Light and Mia become fast friends, then a couple. Light explains to Mia how the Death Note works and she agrees they should use the book to bring justice to those who have managed to slip through the fingers of the law. Light wants people to know of the killings, that they are connected. He wants to give the people someone to look up to, someone bigger than either him or Mia, "what they want... is a god, so let's give it to them." So, they choose the name Kira, meaning 'Light' in Russian and Celtic, but also has the meaning of 'killer' in Japanese, hoping that any authorities looking for Kira will be thrown off by this and assume the killer is located across the world from Seattle.

Lakeith Stanfield as L and Nat Wolff as Light Turner in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.
Lakeith Stanfield as L and Nat Wolff as Light Turner in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.

A notoriously good detective, who goes by the letter L takes an interest in the case, and we're introduced to one of the oddest characters of the film. Through much of the movie, L's face is hidden, keeping him safe from being added to the Death Note. He was an orphan who entered a government-run training program in charge of creating "the greatest detectives the world had ever seen". He quickly narrows down the location of Kira to the Seattle area, putting Light and Mia on edge and showing us that Mia is the more depraved one in the equation; not quite satisfied that they're eliminating enough people and wants to do more with the book than Light is willing. At one point she even suggests putting Light's father, a cop, in the book to further avoid apprehension.

As L closes in on the true identity of Kira, Mia and Light are at odds, and Light finds himself scrambling to survive.

"Kira saves" is spray painted on a building, showing support for the mysterious entity bringing criminals to justice in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.
"Kira saves" is spray painted on a building, showing support for the mysterious entity bringing criminals to justice in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.

Main Cast / Characters

 
 
Nat Wolff
Light Turner
Margaret Qualley
Mia Sutton
Lakeith Stanfield
L
Shae Whigham
James Turner
Willem Dafoe
Ryuk - voice
James Liles
Ryuk

Behind the Scenes

 
 
Adam Wingard
Director
Roy Lee
Producer
Dan Lin
Producer
Masi Oka
Producer
Jason Hoffs
Producer
Ted Sarandos
Producer
LP Entertainment
Production Company
Vertigo Entertainment
Production Company
Lin Pictures
Production Company
Netflix
Distributed by

Favorite Character

Jason Liles as Ryuk in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.
Jason Liles as Ryuk in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.

Although he's technically the 'bad guy', I liked Ryuk. During the movie he makes some quick jokes and even asks Light, "are you sure about this", showing he's mindful of what the book is capable of and the future ramifications of Light's actions.

Memorable Quotes

My favorite quote from the film had to be when L and Light were in the cafe, L wants Light to know he's on to him and he'll do anything to bring him down, "you're the one who flew into the sun, I'm just here to make sure you actually burn."

Raves

Nat Wolff as Light Turner and Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.
Nat Wolff as Light Turner and Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton in 'Death Note' (2017), a Netflix adaptation.

While I have watched the anime series of Death Note, of which this movie is based upon, I want to note that my review is solely on this film and will not be a comparison of the two or the American adaptation and its flaws. That being said, I do like the premise of the film, the idea of someone possessing something as powerful as the Death Note and using it to good, all while not letting their emotions get the better of them is awesome. I know a lot of people who would probably set out on a mission to end every person who has ever wronged them, and rude neighbors beware.

I really liked the form Ryuk takes and his subtle sense of humor. I always enjoy when writers throw a little humor into a horror movie and it's even better when delivered by the antagonist.

Although this could be considered a comparison to the anime, I think that Willem Dafoe was an excellent choice to voice Ryuk. Very true to the original.

Nitpick

Throughout the entire movie, I just kept thinking, "these were the best of the best in the auditions"? Don't get me wrong, I've seen worse, after all, I was an avid soap opera watcher from an early age, but for a movie with a much larger budget, I expect a little more.

I also wouldn't classify this movie as a horror movie. Although it does have its moments of blood spatter and fleshy chunks, I think of it more like a supernatural thriller, maybe, but horror movie it is not.

The character of L annoyed me most of the time. His candy obsession and constant jittery actions were off-putting.

The music in this movie doesn't seem to fit the theme of the movie. While there's a more goth or grunge feel to the film visually, the music they chose was pop or techno style. This completely takes away from the scene and just doesn't make sense.

This movie isn't the only one that does this, it's just an overall nitpick of mine, but why does nearly every city foot chase scene have to go through a restaurant kitchen? It's almost as bad as a woman breaking a heel as she runs away, it's overused and cliché at this point.

Would I Recommend?

I can't say that I would outright recommend this movie to anyone other than to show them what the Death Note actually is and how it works if they aren't a fan of anime and aren't willing to watch the original series.

On my scale of Buy/Theater/Rent/Netflix, I'm glad I already had my Netflix subscription and I didn't pay extra for it. Although if I went into it thinking it would be less of a horror and more of a thriller, and I hadn't already seen the preceding anime version, I might spring for that rental fee.

How Would You Rate 'Death Note'?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Veronica

    Reader Thoughts on the Film

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)