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What’s frustrating is that with better lead performers and a tighter script, Wingard could have made a great adaptation. Instead it settles when it should have soared.
Whereas the more grounded scenes of Death Note anchor a startlingly bloody fantasy of power run amok, the scenes that fixate on super powers and code-busting seldom manage to rise above the realm of serviceable YA fiction.
The New York Times
Perhaps stifled by the cultural and commercial clout of its source material (a multimedia juggernaut of books, movies, television shows and a stage musical), Death Note feels rushed and constricted.
The Hollywood Reporter
Rather than relying on amplifying typical genre conventions, Wingard methodically lays the foundation to set up this particular Death Note adaptation for a potential sequel, but the outcome is more deliberate than inspired.
The whole thing feels like the pilot episode of a third-rate comic-book vigilante TV show.
The movie never quite reckons with just how twisted a concept it’s peddling, and that’s easily the scariest thing about it.
Los Angeles Times
What Wingard has delivered is a fitfully entertaining, clearly compromised hybrid of action, horror and science-fiction.
The only reason to take such a uniquely Japanese story and transplant it to Seattle is to explore how its thorny moral questions might inspire different answers in an American context, so for this retread to all but reduce America to its whiteness indicates an absence of context more than anything else. It’s the most glaring symptom of a film that utterly fails to investigate its premise.
Wingard’s film is an incoherent mess of tones and styles, confused character motives, and murky narratives.
The new horror-thriller is cheesy, asinine, convoluted and ludicrous. On the plus side, if your eyeballs need a vigorous workout, this will have them rolling nonstop.
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