April 8th, 2011

Louis and Lestat

Movie review: MW

No spoilers.

*

Adapted from the 1970s Tezuka Osamu manga of the same name, MW is the story of two boys, Yuki and Garai, the only survivors when their home island is slaughtered by an invading army. Exposed to the chemical agent MW, Yuki goes mad and grows up to become what TV Tropes calls a Magnificent Bastard, out to kill everyone responsible for his childhood trauma...until that's not enough, and he decides to kill everyone. Garai, on the other hand, grows up to be a Catholic priest. Madly in love with Yuki, he can't bring himself to turn Yuki in. Though Yuki's last remaining humanity lies in his feelings for Garai, his growing insanity pushes him to begin a twisted game of cat-and-mouse, where Yuki kills and then confesses at Garai's church. Tortured by his complicity in Yuki's actions, Garai knows he has to stop Yuki before Yuki gets hold of enough MW to kill billions. But can he do it?

The manga had three major plot threads: Yuki seducing, blackmailing, and manipulating his way to revenge; the twisted relationship between Yuki and Garai; and exciting action scenes.
Sadly, the movie focuses on the third, resulting in a generic action-thriller. I knew I was in for a disappointment when MW opened with a half-hour chase scene.

Mostly the movie follows Yuki (Tamaki Hiroshi) as he kills people, escapes from hundreds of American soldiers with helicopter-mounted machine-guns, and escapes the police on motorbikes. He has a few scenes with Garai (Yamada Takayuki) where they're clearly close, but never are they called lovers. Further, Yuki's obsession with Garai is downplayed, with scenes of violence and indifference thrown in to make it look like Yuki doesn't care much about Garai. Scenes of intrigue and manipulation are also short and exposition heavy, excuses to get to more action instead of interesting in themselves.

The acting was good. Yamada, though he didn't look like manga-Garai, acted him perfectly. Garai was a hypocrite and yet sympathetic; I felt his desperation and torment. Tamaki's Yuki wasn't as impressive. He's a good actor, but couldn't get Yuki's complexity, making Yuki evil one moment and kind in another, rather than both at once. Still, Yuki's one-dimensional portrayal wasn't just his fault, and he did a solid job playing your basic smirking psychopath.

MW the movie is a decent way to kill two hours. But it could have been much more.

*

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