From this point onward, there will be lots of spoilers so please skip this post immediately if you haven't watched this movie and do not wish to find out about the ending. In addition, this post will be rather long so in case you do not wish to read this lengthy post, please skip this. Last but not least, the usual disclaimer: this review is purely based on my own views so please do not get overly upset over this. You may not agree with my opinion but I hope that at least by reading this, it offers a different perspective on the film and I welcome all forms of constructive comments on the points raised.
If you've read my earlier post about Platina Data's novel, it is obvious that I was very impressed with it. On hindsight, this makes me wonder if it had been a bad move for me to read the novel ahead of watching this movie. Then again, after watching the movie, there were still question marks hanging around because the story had chose to skip some important facts or alter them which somehow did not make a lot of sense. As such, I think even if I had not read the novel first, it would not have helped or boost my liking for the film anyway. The only thing it would have done was to cover the illogical parts of the movie so that I wouldn't notice them.
To begin with, let me start with a brief synopsis of the movie. The story is set in an unspecified year in the near future where the development of a DNA investigation system helps to reduce the likelihood of false accusations to zero and the rate of arresting criminals raised to 100%. As the system captures the DNA information of everyone in the nation, there are concerns over privacy and abuse of the data but due to the amazing results it achieves, the system is seen as an absolute necessity rather than a potential evil. At the centre of this system is its developer Kagura Ryuhei (Ninomiya Kazunari) who has total faith in what he has achieved and is sure that it can do no wrong. On the other end of the spectrum stands police detective Asama Reiji (Toyokawa Etsushi) who is somewhat convinced that the system is indeed useful but also holds doubts towards its legitimacy and how it has affected the way police do their work i.e. being over-reliant on the system's results.
The film starts with Asama visiting the crime scene of where the body of a child was found where he is then called back to the police headquarters to attend a briefing by Kagura where he declares that the DNA investigation system had churned out the possible match of a man who was responsible for the serial murders of a number of children. During the briefing, it is also mentioned that this man is a relative of a woman named Yamashita Ikue. True to what Kagura had said, the police manage to nab the culprit whose characteristics match the DNA matching results. However, alarm bells ring in Asama's mind as Yamashita is not a criminal nor a victim of crime so there was no way Kagura could have obtained Yamashita's DNA to match with the criminal. And that is what leads to Asama finding out about the DNA investigation system and having concerns over the legitimacy of collecting people's DNA samples and using them for this purpose. However, Kagura has no qualms over doing this and says that even though the method of collecting the DNA samples is illegal now, there will be new legislation passed to make it legal soon. Kagura clearly is proud of his system and its usefulness and likens the information stored in this system as "platinum data".
Soon after, the Tateshina siblings i.e. Kosaku (Wada Soukou) and Saki (Mizuhara Kiko) are found dead at the hospital ward where Kagura has been receiving psychiatric treatment from his doctor Minakami Eriko (Suzuki Honami). The siblings had been staying there while Saki, an autistic mathematics genius, developed the DNA system together with Kagura. Just before they died, Kosaku had told Kagura that the DNA investigation system was flawed and they were developing this patch named "Mogul" to make the system complete. However, before they could tell Kagura more about Mogul or pass him the information, they were murdered. What's astonishing is that the DNA sample found on Saki's clothes match Kagura's which effectively pinpoints him as the most likely suspect of the murders!
Kagura cannot believe what the system has come up with and starts to wonder if it has anything to do with the other personality residing inside him. Years ago, after Kagura's father committed suicide, he started to have some periods of time where he would pass out and had no recollection of what happened during then. Later, after receiving treatment from Minakami, it was found that there was this other personality named Ryu residing inside Kagura and Ryu would come out from time to time thus rendering Kagura unaware of what he did. As Kagura is convinced that he did not kill the Tateshina brothers, the logical explanation was that Ryu could be responsible since his own DNA was found on Saki.
As I list down the key differences between the movie and the novel, I will explain why I think the omission or amendment to some of these developments or settings affected the movie:
The same process of nabbing the criminal happens in the novel but the case which this guy is responsible for has been changed in the movie. And in actual fact, the Dentori was never mentioned in the movie which I assume to be related to the gender change of Minakami's role. A woman would not have been able to have sexual intercourse with the female victims mentioned in the novel so that was why I didn't understand at first why Minakami's gender was changed. Due to the fact that the case used in the movie was different, that made the gender change reasonable but I still don't see why it was necessary in the first place. I would have preferred what the novel had as compared to the warped motive in this movie.
In the novel, there is this character Suzuran who is obviously missing from the movie. She is actually a very important character but the complexity of the subplot involving Suzuran, Kagura and Ryu would have meant that the movie needed to deviate a fair bit from the main storyline. Actually, Suzuran is not a brand new character but rather, she is a product of Kagura's imagination which was modelled on Saki. Given that the limited time in a single movie, this was probably why this essential subplot was taken out of the movie. Frankly speaking, I think it was a pity that this had to be done. There was really too little about Ryu in the movie and coupled with the elimination of Suzuran's presence, there were only random scenes like this meeting in the rain between Ryu and Saki which hinted at their emotional connection. I thought they were a rather cute couple especially in that scene where they did not kiss but were merely putting their faces close to each other and rubbing their noses.
One of the biggest flaws with this movie was how they handled the issue of Kagura's father's death. In actual fact, he didn't die just because his son had mistakenly thought that an imitation pottery work was his own creation. There was a far stronger reason which hurt his pride as a pottery artist but the film chose to gloss over the fact and simply brushed off the issue like this. This is actually no small matter considering that the dual personality problem in Kagura appeared after his father's suicide. You can argue either way that Ryu was the original childhood personality in Kagura while the latter was one born out of the necessity to survive against the harsh truth. In another way, Kagura could have been the dominant personality in the past but Ryu was born in a bid to hide from the truth. Either way, the suicide of his father was a big thing to him and the reason behind him was what led Kagura to believe so strongly in science or rather the DNA investigation system which has no grey areas and is supposed to be 100% accurate. If the time spent on that very long motorcycle chase scene could have been cut, it could have been used on more important developments in the story.
As for the performance of the cast, I thought that Ninomiya and Toyokawa both fitted their roles' image and showed reasonably good acting. However, due to the poor script which was full of loopholes, I think it hampered the development of the characters to the extent that Kagura felt like someone who was arrogant and confident about his work for no apparent reason while Asama was stubborn about not believing the DNA system and suddenly believed Kagura's innocence. The truth is, there were various happenings in their background stories and thoughts which were not fully represented in the movie thus it made these characters feel one-dimensional and their actions incomprehensible at times. At the same time, I simply didn't think that changing Minakami's character to a woman helped the story in any way and honestly, I think that was the biggest reason why this movie flopped. Nothing against Suzuki Honami but if the change was logical and made the story better, I wouldn't mind it. However, looking at how things turned out, I must say that it was a change done in vain. Likewise for An's character Shiratori, she was a bit more interesting in the novel because of her identity as someone working for the US government. In the movie's setting, her status as a civil servant and Kagura's subordinate just made her actions seemed odd. There was very little An could do to change the situation. Mizuhara Kiko does leave quite a deep impression on me whenever I see her works but alas, her scenes as Saki were so limited that there was nothing much we came to know about this character except that she was a soulmate to Ryu and a great help to Kagura in the DNA investigation system project.
Story: 2 out of 10 (The basic framework from the novel was there but the story's development itself was too messed up to convey the essence of the novel)
Acting: 6 out of 10 (The two leads were OK but could have been better if the script could give them the space to flex their acting muscles)
Theme song/BGM: 9 out of 10 (I like the theme song especially in the chorus part which resonates with Kagura's unhappy past and what lies ahead a path of pain)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6 out 10 (The DNA investigation set which was used in SARI and the computer system used in Saki's room looked very futuristic and impressive. Other than that, nothing else really caught my eye)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 3 out of 10 (It would have been better if the relationship between Kagura and Asama could be developed further so as to show how they started as people who didn't believe in each other to a relationship built upon trust and understanding.)
Total: 26 out of 50