Almost all the elements that made the two “Death Note” psychothrillers special are signally absent from “L: Change the World,” a lame spinoff centering on the geeky, kohl-eyed detective created by teen-heartthrob Kenichi Matsuyama. Thesp’s encore performance as “L” has propelled pic to a rosy $30 million locally. However, offshore chances, even on ancillary in the West, look insignificant, despite the name of director Hideo Nakata, here working way below par.
Pic is mostly set during the 23-day grace period before L’s death, triggered when he signs his own name in a Death Note book. He takes on a case involving a deadly virus (half-flu, half-ebola) that’s been developed by a group wanting to cut down the world population and establish a new global eco-system. When that virus and its antidote go missing, L turns from a candy-munching techie into a semi-action hero, with none of the clever mind games that propelled the claustrophobic “Death Note” movies. Ridiculous thriller plot, with nods to “The Andromeda Strain” and “The Satan Bug,” is full of holes and generates minimal suspense. Running time is ultra-leisurely.