- This page is for the American live-action film released in 2017. For the Japanese live-action film, see Death Note (2006 film).
Death Note is an American feature film loosely based on the Death Note manga series. It was released streaming on Netflix on August 25th, 2017.
Netflix developed the film after it was dropped by Warner Brothers in 2016. It was directed by Adam Wingard and stars Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, and Keith Stanfield.
Characters and castEdit
- "Intoxicated by the power of a supernatural notebook, a young man begins killing those he deems unworthy of life. Based on the famous Japanese manga."
- "Light Turner finds a supernatural notebook and uses it to mete out death, attracting the attention of a detective, a demon and a girl in his class."
The genres are listed as: Horror Movies, Supernatural Horror Movies, Teen Screams.
In Seattle, high school student Light Turner encounters a notebook marked "Death Note". He is visited by the death god Ryuk, who tells him that he can cause the death of anyone he wishes by writing their name in the book, as long as he knows their real name and face. Ryuk coaxes Light into testing it out on the bully Kenny Doyle, leading to his decapitated in a freak accident. That evening, Light is compelled to write down the name of Antony Skomal, the man who killed his mother in a hit and run. Skomal dies in a similar freak accident at a restaurant. Ryuk explains other rules of the Death Note, including the ability to control the actions of the victim for up to 48 hours after their name is written before they die. Classmate Mia Sutton asks Light about the Death Note, and he demonstrates how it works on a man who had taken his family hostage. She encourages Light to use the Death Note with her to rid the world of criminals, improving the world together. They decide to work together under the guise of a god they call "Kira", using the book's coercion powers to have their victims reveal this name to the world.
Kira becomes beloved by the public, as its killings are seen as righteous by the majority of law enforcement, and Light and Mia become lovers. Kira's actions draw the attention of "L", an enigmatic detective who is able to track down Kira's location to Seattle and his source to the city's police database. L and his assistant/father-figure Watari travel to Seattle and meet with James Turner, the chief of police and Light's father, to discuss how they will catch Kira. L gives a televised speech with his face concealed, taunting Kira to kill him, and when this fails to happen, L suspects that Kira must know a person's name and face to kill.
L has FBI agents follow Light and other suspects. Mia suggests killing the agents, but Light refuses. The FBI agents thereafter commit mass suicide and Light accuses Ryuk of killing them. James appears on television and vows to apprehend Kira. Mia urges Light to kill him for the greater good, but Light can't bring himself to do it. When James is not killed, L comes to the conclusion that Light must be Kira. L confronts Light, revealing his face to him. Realizing that L is closing in on him, Light uses the Death Note to force Watari to uncover L's real name. As Ryuk explains, Light can burn the page with Watari's name on it within the 48 hours to cancel his impending death; however, this method can only be used to save a victim of the Death Note once. Watari leaves suddenly for the abandoned New York orphanage where he found L years before; L learns Watari has disappeared and orders Light's house to be searched; he finds nothing, as Mia was able to sneak the Death Note out.
Knowing that Light is still being followed, Mia helps him to sneak away at the school dance, allowing him to collect the Death Note and contact Watari via phone. Watari finds L's records moments before the 48-hour deadline, but Light finds Watari's page missing. Watari is then shot and killed by unknown soldiers before he can reveal L's name. Mia reveals that she used the Death Note to kill the FBI agents in order to protect herself and Light, took Watari's page, and has also written Light's name in the book, giving him until midnight before his heart stops. She offers to burn Light's page if he gives the Death Note to her, as she believes he is not capable of making the right decisions for the good of society. Meanwhile, L is devastated by Watari's death and goes on his own manhunt for Light.
Light tells Mia to meet him at the Seattle Great Wheel where he will turn over the book, and then flees from police, who are closing in on him. L catches up to him and prepares to kill him, but a passerby knocks L out after overhearing that Light is Kira. Pursued by police, Light meets Mia and takes her to the top of the ferris wheel. Light tries to convince Mia that they will be happier without the Death Note, but Mia is not dissuaded and takes the Death Note, much to Light's intense dismay. She learns that Light wrote her name in the book, with her death contingent on her taking the Death Note from him. With both of them doomed, Ryuk causes the ferris wheel to collapse. Mia falls to her death, while Light and the Death Note fall into the water. The page with Light's name on it drifts into a burn barrel, an event witnessed by L. Though Light is rescued from the water, he has fallen into a coma.
Two days later, a man leaves the Death Note at Light's bedside. When Light wakes up, he finds his father there, who tells him he knows that Light is Kira. James explains that he found a news clipping about Skomal's death in Light's room and realized that he was Kira's first victim. Light explains that he used the Death Note at the school to plan out Mia's death in a way that would ensure his own page got burned if she took the Death Note. He also manipulated several criminals to induce him into a medical coma, having them use the Death Note during his comatose absence to give himself an alibi. With Kira continuing to kill while Light was in a coma, L is taken off the case and forced to return to Japan. As his plane is about to take off, he ponders a comment Light made during their standoff, remembering Mia's involvement, and races to her home to search her possessions. He finds the Death Note page with the names of the FBI agents she killed on it, and in a hysterical fit, contemplates writing a name on the page. Back in Light's hospital room, Ryuk comments "You humans are so interesting" to Light.
On January 14, 2007, the Malaysian paper The Star stated that more than ten film companies in the United States had expressed interest in the rights for a Death Note remake. On June 2nd, 2008, Shock Till You Drop reported that the American production company Vertigo Entertainment was developing the remake with Vlas and Charles Parlapanides as screenwriters. On April 30, 2009, Variety reported that Warner Bros., the distributors for the original Japanese live-action films, had acquired the American rights for the remake, with the original screenwriters still attached, along with Vertigo's producers Roy Lee and Doug Davison, in addition to producers Dan Lin and Brian Witten. The release date was tentatively set for the year 2015.
On January 13, 2011, Deadline announced that Shane Black had been hired to direct the film, with the script being written by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry. On October 29, 2011, Black explained at a Long Beach Comic Con panel that the film was in jeopardy. Warner Brothers initially wanted Light Yagami to become the good guy while Ryuk would be cut from the plot altogether. Black was largely opposed to this and insisted that a faithful adaptation was the correct way to go. Black went on to say that eventually the original elements of the main character Light had been restored in the script, and added that this is what the film should be about. A year and a half later, on April 24, 2013, Black confirmed in an interview with Bleeding Cool that he was still working on the film. More than another year after that, on July 8, 2014, The Tracking Board reported that Gus Van Sant would direct the film since Shane Black was leaving for another project.
On April 27, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Adam Wingard would direct the film, with the most recent version of the script written by Jeremy Slater. Jason Hoffs and Masi Oka were announced as producers, in addition to Roy Lee and Dan Lin. On September 29, 2015, Variety reported that Nat Wolff was cast as the student who finds the Death Note. On November 12th, 2015, Deadline reported that Margaret Qualley was in negotiations for the female lead. On February 22, 2016, producer Roy Lee said in an interview with Collider that they were still waiting for the official greenlight, but they plan on making the movie this year. Lee also stated that they had a cast in place and the film would definitely be rated R.
On April 6, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Warner Brothers was looking to release fewer films following the poor reception of Batman v. Superman. Later that day, The Wrap reported that Warner Brothers had dropped Death Note, but the project was now getting picked up by Netflix. Keith Stanfield might also join the cast, although an official offer had not yet been made. On April 8th, The Vancouver Sun reported that filming would begin in Vancouver on June 22. On May 27, VancouverFilm.Net provided a schedule for June production dates; Death Note was scheduled for production from June 30th to August 30th. On June 10, Variety reported that Keith Stanfield was cast for an unknown role. That same day, the Directors Guild of Canada released production dates for the second half of 2016, updating Death Note's production start date to June 29th. On June 13, Bloody Disgusting reported that Jason Eisener was joining the film as second unit director.
Filming was first spotted in Vancouver on June 28th. On June 30th, Netflix confirmed that principal photography had begun and made several announcements. Wolff will be playing Light Turner (based on Light Yagami), Qualley will be Mia Sutton (Misa Amane), and Stanfield will be L. Paul Nakauchi was added to the cast as Watari, and Shea Whigham as James Turner (Soichiro Yagami). The film will be available streaming on Netflix in 2017. On July 6, filming was spotted in downtown Vancouver for what appeared to be L (Keith Stanfield) giving a press conference set in Seattle. On August 2, 2016, Willem Dafoe was announced to voiced the Shinigami Ryuk. Principal photography was extended, and filming wrapped on September 10th.
On November 10th, 2016, director Wingard tweeted the "first official image from Death Note" of a film clapperboard, and this was later followed by Wolff and Qualley posting images to their instagrams of Light and Mia apparently having a picnic in a graveyard. On November 17th, producer Masi Oka confirmed in an interview that he had a part in the film. On January 31, 2017, the film had its first private screening with a test audience. In mid-March, the film was spotted having reshoots in Vancouver. 
On March 22, the first trailer was released. On July 20th, 2017, at San Diego Comic Con, the Netflix panel featured the Death Note cast and released a clip of Light meeting Ryuk. That evening, the film held a sneak peak screening at the Horton Grand Theatre.
Following the announcements in 2015 revealing the lead actors, the project saw criticism from professionals and fans alike for whitewashing Japanese characters. Asian-American actor Edward Zo posted a video about his personal attempts to audition for the lead role of Light, which he was unable to do because the role was limited to only white actors. Asian-American actress Arden Cho also criticized the whitewashing on Twitter, quoting actress Viola Davis saying, "you cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there," and added that there was a "LONG way to go for Asians when we can't even book Animes." No one from Warner Brothers responded to the controversy, and neither did Netflix after picking up the production.
The controversy saw a resurgence when the trailer was released on March 22, 2017. "Death Note" trended on Twitter with many individuals commenting on the whitewashing, and many outlets picking up the story.
The film continues to be cited in the news regarding the problems of whitewashing in Hollywood. For instance, after the announcement that JJ Abrams would remake the popular anime film Your Name, whitewashing concerns were reported by various outlets with references to Death Note.
Death Note received generally negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes has a "rotten" score of 40% from critics and 24% from viewers, Metacritic has a score of 43/100 from critics and 3.3/10 from viewers, and IMDB has a score of 4.6/10. The reviews by Netflix users have also been overwhelmingly poor with more than 60% of users giving it the lowest score of 1 out of 5 stars.
IGN said the film was "a flawed take on the beloved manga," but gave the film a "Good" rating of 7/10 with the summary: "Netflix's live-action Death Note movie is a very condensed take on the manga with two unsatisfying lead performances."
JoBlo gave the film a 5/10, saying: "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense or flow very naturally, but it gets points for the effort."
GameSpot gave a mixed review, saying: "Death Note probably won't become one of Netflix's biggest hits, but for what it pays tribute to and what it accomplishes, it's not hard to recommend."
- The events in the film takes place over exactly six months, from April 14th, 2017 to October 14th, 2017.
- The announcement that the film would be rated R came out just eight days after Deadpool's record-breaking release. Deadpool was the first major comic book film adaptation to be rated R, while similar adaptations have stayed with lower ratings to keep them accessible to underage fans. The major success of an R-rated comic book movie might have provided the Death Note production team leverage to go with an R rating.
- Netflix released Death Note: The VR Experience, an interactive video, as part of the promotion of the film.
- The deaths are much more graphic than in the original manga and anime.
- Unlike the original story, this Death Note can only control someone for two days before their predestined "expiration" dates.
- IMDB: Death Note
- Rotten Tomatoes: Death Note
- Metacritic: Death Note
- Wikipedia: Death Note
- Netflix: Death Note
- Facebook: Death Note official account
- Twitter: Ryuk official account
- Instagram: deathnotemovie official account