Death Note

Death Note ★★★★

Disposition Matrix. That was the name given to an 'information management' system developed under the Obama Administration as to who lives and dies, who is extraordinarily rendered and who is not. It utilized large-scale data-mining operations, human intelligence gathering, threat-determination algorithms and the like which would end up in a Tuesday briefing where President Obama would personally decide who to assassinate that week. Drone assassinations in Pakistan apparently didn't require Presidential Authorization, but everywhere else did. It didn't matter what citizenship you might have held, how old you might have been, what others you might be in proximity to and so on. Well, that isn't exactly true. Those factors mattered enough to be personally considered and weighed before an assassination was ordered or not.

There is a philosophy that exist that if one were able to kill the right people in the right order, and to kill enough of them, that this would objectively improve collective human existence. This philosophy has been tried repeatedly, but it has never been demonstrated to work. The United States has since the end of World War II, made it a cornerstone of foreign and domestic policy to put itself into a position where it assumed the capacity to murder anyone, to wipe away any actor it found counterproductive to its aims, which were always assumed to be inherently good, inherently rational, even if it led to the murder of innocents and the elevation of tyrants.

I'm not, like, trying to get heavy or anything, or self-righteous, but this is why I think an American Death Note works. Sense of victimhood leading to righteous indignation times the universal power to kill without apparent consequence. This Death Note connects the mindset and ethos of school shootings, including Columbine, with targeted killings from RC robot planes.

I've read a fair amount of the Death Note manga and I have seen at least one of the prior live-action Death Note movies so there was a good chance this wouldn't work for me, but it did. I was legitimately wigged out by Willem Dafoe's Ryuk. I bought into the candy-colored teen romance melodrama. I bought into its hopped-up narrative acceleration. At no point was I ever bored, at no place did its pace ever flag. Something is constantly happening to push its story along and fold it into new directions. Moreover this was fun, which might sound weird coming from a review that begins with Disposition Matrices, but I dug its sly, grim sense of humor and lack of concern with real-world groundedness. This Death Note feels more like comics than it does movies. It sometimes also feels like if one were to edit together only the 'stuff that mattered' from a season of television into less than two hours but that was for me part of the joy of watching. I frequently have a difficult time finishing tv seasons so not having to worry about what could have been ponderous character moments, needless exposition or labored backstory was freeing and helped me focus even though I mostly knew what was going to happen. I would totally welcome a sequel from the same creators but if it didn't happen that would be fine too.

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