BY CHRIS ZIMMERMAN
Compressing a story as large and complex as Naoki Urasawa’s
manga series “20th Century
Boys” is no easy task. The task would be daunting for any filmmaker;
thankfully, director Yukihiko Tsutsumi was more than up to the task, taking the
Peter Jackson route and condensing the series into a trilogy that is meant to
be viewed as one massive film.
It’s never easy being the middle component of a trilogy but “the Last Hope” fulfils its role very
well, bridging the gap between the first and third movie while pushing the plot
forward while still maintaining an identity of its own.
Jumping forward 15 years after the events of the previous
film, now referred to as “bloody new years eve”, the enigmatic friend has
consolidated his power and expanded his influence over all of Japan. Kenji Endo, the protagonist
from the first movie is dubbed a terrorist and presumed dead. Most of his
comrades who banded together to stop friend and prevent the “book of prophesy”
from being fulfilled have either been captured or just altogether vanished.
Instead, Kenji’s niece Kanna has taken up the fight against Friend in an effort
to prove her uncle’s innocence.
Kanna’s determination lands her in a re-education center
where she attempts to uncover Friend’s true identity. While her role is not
fully explained, she is considered something of a savior as she can convert
others to her cause and even displays ESP.
Sometime between the first movie and this one, a second book
of prophesy has emerged. The book states that a savior will rise only to be
slain before the masses. Most believe this to be Kanna though the film also
hints at there being the possibility that it is in fact Friend.
As with the first film, the action jumps between various
time periods, building on the mystery of Friend’s true identity. While some
answers are given to questions raised in the first movie, even more questions
arise as Kanna digs deeper into Friend’s history.
With the introductions of the main characters out of the
way, this installment was allowed to breathe more and move at a brisker pace.
Despite clocking in at around two and a half hours, the film is gripping and
clever enough that it is never in risk of being boring. Most of the credit
belongs to the cast who had an entire first movie to flesh out their characters
so that the audience would be invested in them.
Since this is only the second of the planned trilogy, the
film leaves it’s viewers dangling on a pretty major cliff hanger that sets up
the third and final film nicely. There is less exposition and more action as
the series gears up for its inevitable conclusion. The ultimate revelations to
come should be enough to entice fans back, if for no other reason than to see
their patience rewarded.
Special Features: Original
and English Trailers