Returner

"Weak"

Returner Review


Returner shamelessly steals pieces of just about every sci-fi blockbuster of the past 25 years, but don't let your scorn drive you from the theater right away. Stick around and admire the sheer nerve of screenwriter/director Takashi Yamazaki, who scrambles all the clichés into a watchable, if somewhat absurd, sci-fi stir fry.

Miyamoto (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a great-looking freelance fixer whose long hair hangs just-so over one eye. He wanders Tokyo in a fabulous black leather trench coat borrowed from the Matrix costume truck and shoots those who need to be shot while searching for his life-long enemy, Mizoguchi (Goro Kisihitani), the extremely evil leader of the local branch of a Chinese triad. One night, just as Miyamoto is about to blow off Mizoguchi's head, he's interrupted when young, perky Milly (Ann Suzuki) literally drops from the sky, explaining that she's traveled back from the future in order to prevent a war with extraterrestrials that will bring about Armageddon. Hmmm.

As the movie travels forward in time to 2084 to show scenes of Alien-like aliens blowing everything up, you'll travel back in time to the day in 1984 when you first saw The Terminator. Like Sarah Connor in that film, Miyamoto is more than a little skeptical, and anyway, he already has his hands full trying to track down Mizoguchi. Luckily for him, the two storylines dovetail when Mizoguchi realizes that if he can get his hands on the stray alien spaceship that a secret government agency has stashed away (see Independence Day) he'll be the most powerful gang boss in Japan.

And what's inside the spaceship? Would you believe an adorable little alien who just wants to find his way home?

The action eventually moves toward an offshore oil rig to which Miyamoto and Miyamoto race in order to save the kidnapped E.T. from Mizoguchi's clutches and get him home before E.T.'s increasingly angry friends arrive in the mothership -- ripping off Independence Day ripping off Close Encounters -- and kick off the war. Numerous car chases and gunfights a la The Matrix occur throughout. Bullet-time effects are applied liberally.

As a writer, Yamazaki certainly lacks imagination, but as a director he has some success, thanks in great part to Kaneshino and Suzuki, who struggle to rise above the script. Their action-flick buddy vibe is amusing, and they have a lot more personality than, say, Neo and Trinity, just to name another high-kicking leather-clad duo. As the gang boss, Kishitani gets more and more evil as his hairdo gets more and more spiky. Like great movie villains from Dr. No to the Joker, he's done in by his proclivity to pause and give angry lectures when he should just be shooting. Also in the mix, the funny Kirin Kiki as the mysterious granny who finds Miyamoto his assignments and keeps an arsenal of weapons and a big box of plastic explosives tucked away in her ancient apothecary.

There must be a way to write an original extraterrestrial time-travel shoot-'em-up Chinese mafia buddy flick, but Yamazaki hasn't achieved it with Returner. Now that I think of it: Kaneshiro is a famous Asian pop singer, and Suzuki looks an awful lot like Björk. Maybe this should have been a musical.

No receipt, no returns.



Returner

Facts and Figures

Run time: 116 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 31st August 2002

Distributed by: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 21

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.