The Returner


Dir: Takashi Yamazaki
Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Ann Suzuki, Goro Kishitani, Yukiko Okamoto

Trash City
Top 10:2003
E.T. meets The Terminator, somewhere in The Matrix - if nothing else, this film proves that a lack of true originality is no barrier to a great time. In the future, Earth has been invaded by aliens; with their last throw, the surviving humans send Milly (Suzuki) back in time to kill the first arrival, which crash-landed in Japan, and thereby forestall the attack. She's lucky enough to find Miyamoto (Kaneshiro), a very professional killer, though he initially scoffs at her story. But when he discovers the connection to Mizoguchi (Kishitani) - the man who kidnapped Miyamoto's best friend and sold him for body parts - he decides to get involved. Though is Milly's murder mission really the solution it seems?

This works on almost every level, with excellent production values and engaging characters. Mizoguchi is a fine villain, like Gary Oldman in Leon (even if he goes through henchmen at such a rate, you wonder why anyone ever signs up), while Miyamoto's dead-pan expressions balance the extrovert Milly - you truly care what happens to them. The whizzy side is not ignored, with bullet-time action sequences you actually wouldn't mind more of, plus alien spaceships and futuristic devastation, realised with imagination and flair. Weaknesses are few, only a couple of clunky moments that soon pass. Otherwise, it's been some time since I've seen an SF film that's so consistently entertaining and engrossing.

A-


Many happy returners
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