Venice Film Review: ‘Outrage Coda’

The final 'Outrage' sees director/star Takeshi Kitano in muted form, though his onscreen persona is always a treat.

Beat Takeshi, Toshiyuki Nishida, Nao Omori, Pierre Taki, Yutaka Matsushige, Ren Ohsugi, Sansei Shiomi, Hakuryu, Tatsuo Nadaka, Ken Mitsuishi, Taizo Harada, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Kanji Tsuda, Tokio Kaneda, Ikuji Nakamura, Ittoku Kishibe. (Japanese, Korean dialogue)

There are approximately 10120 board configurations possible in the game of chess. And with his previous two films in the “Outrage” series, it felt a little like Takeshi Kitano was going to take us through them all. Recasting corrupt cops, corporate-style gangster middlemen, bosses and lowlifes as bishops, knights, kings and pawns, and moving their dwindling number around the board in ceaseless permutations, Kitano created a labyrinthine yet hermetically contained Yakuziverse in 2010’s lean, bloody “Outrage,” and 2014’s knottier, twistier “Beyond Outrage.” But as prepared as the series’ fans might think they are for the intensely talky, overpopulated and intricate rhythms of the trilogy’s conclusion, “Outrage Coda,” it’s undeniably a challenge to keep all the lines of loyalty and betrayal clear. With bloodletting kept to a minimum until the hour mark or so, it feels like Kitano has changed his game from chess to the less-spectator-friendly, more territorial Go — in which the possible configurations are at least 50 orders of magnitude greater and pieces are constantly added but nothing actually moves.

The film suffers somewhat from a sort of narrative exhaustion, with the gears grinding rustily in the opening act to get a new plot into motion after Kitano’s character, Otomo, had more or less killed everyone of note by the end of ‘Beyond.’ It especially feels the lack of the first installments’ genially two-faced policeman Kataoka, who was the yin to Otomo’s yang, eternally playing both ends against the middle, but having a grudging fondness for his ostensible adversary’s less politic approach to problem solving. Instead, ‘Coda’ gives us a couple of comparatively vanilla cop characters, whose underdeveloped motivations mean they never provide much of a foil for all the gangland infighting. Then again, that might not be so bad, considering the last thing this film needs is more men in dark suits with arcane agendas conspiring to betray their superiors, only to double-cross their co-conspirators.

Having slashed and burned all other bridges, then gone back to riddle them with bullets, Otomo is now off-grid on Korea’s Jeju Island working for regional boss/fixer Chang (Tokio Kaneda, always looking like he’s in the middle of a chemical peel). But when a vacationing Hanada (Pierre Taki), a mid-level member of Japan’s powerful Hanabishi clan, roughs up some of Chang’s prostitutes, Otomo is sent in to ensure reparations are made. (Incidentally, feast your eyes on the two battered call-girls, as they will be the last females you’ll see in the exclusively masculine, growly/shouty world of “Outrage Coda.”)

Obviously, Hanada decides it would be easier and cheaper to kill Otomo’s errand-boy and hightail it back to the protection of his powerful clan in Japan. Against Chang’s wishes, Otomo follows, accompanied by sidekick Ichikawa (Nao Omori, bringing a welcome rumpled charm) and so is drawn into the power struggle going on within the Hanabishi. Chairman Namura (Ren Ohsugi), an ex-trader who has no tattoos and served no jail time, wields authority but commands little respect from the old guard — generational tensions are an ongoing theme — including his second-in-command, Underboss Nishino (Toshiyuki Nishida), and Deputy Underboss Nakata (Sansei Shiomi). That’s a lot of three-syllable ‘N’-names to keep straight as the subtitles whip past and various underlings in identical tailoring discuss who’s loyal to whom. So it’s a testament to Kitano’s effortlessly sleek, inherently watchable filmmaking (he reteams with regular DP Katsumi Yanagijima and uses the atonal descending motif of composer Keiichi Suzuki’s score to good effect) that you’re just about kept in your seat throughout all the speechifying.

One of the distinguishing features of his work has always been how intelligently Kitano the director (Takeshi) uses Kitano the actor (“Beat”). And “Outrage Coda” is no exception: Kitano understands that Otomo’s inherently fascinating presence — his strange shuffling gait and his weathered, seen-it-all face, only rarely split by a slightly deranged, lopsided smile — is the film’s most potent weapon, and accordingly he deploys it sparingly. There’s relatively little of Otomo in the film’s first hour, and until the point at which he declares, simply, he’s going to “take down the Tokyo Hanabishi,” all the mayhem of which we know he’s capable remains latent.

Finally, we get the violent treats our patience deserves: the machine-gun-toting Otomo and Ichikawa engulf a ballroom of bad guys with a tsunami of bullets and blood squibs, then find inventive use for a ball-gag, a bomb and very long fuse. But though it ramps up to an enjoyably definitive ending (impressive given that the series’ ultimate moral, about the cyclical futility of the yakuza lifestyle, means it could easily be reset for another go-round) the final outrage of this final ‘Outrage’ might just be how little real outrage there is within a constant, repetitive coda.

Venice Film Review: 'Outrage Coda'

Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (noncompeting), Sept. 9, 2017. Running time: 104 MIN.

Production: (Japan) A Bandai Visual, TV Tokyo, Warner Bros. Pictures Japan, Tohokushinsha Film Corp. and Office Kitano production. (International Sales: Celuloid dreams, Paris.) Producers: Masayuki Mori, Takio Yoshida. Co-producers: Kazumi Kawashiro, Tetsuo Ota, Kiyotaka Ninomiya.

Crew: Director, writer, editor: Takeshi Kitano. Camera (color, widescreen): Katsumi Yanagajima. Music: Keiichi Suzuki.

With: Beat Takeshi, Toshiyuki Nishida, Nao Omori, Pierre Taki, Yutaka Matsushige, Ren Ohsugi, Sansei Shiomi, Hakuryu, Tatsuo Nadaka, Ken Mitsuishi, Taizo Harada, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Kanji Tsuda, Tokio Kaneda, Ikuji Nakamura, Ittoku Kishibe. (Japanese, Korean dialogue)

More Film

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Apollo 11' Re-Release Set for Moon Landing Anniversary

    In today’s film news roundup, Neon is re-releasing “Apollo 11”; “Sesame Street” gets moved; “Supersize Me 2” is set for Sept. 13; Will Ropp gets a “Silk Road” deal; and Apple makes a movie deal. RE-LAUNCH Neon will re-release Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary “Apollo 11” in theaters on July 20, the 50th anniversary of the [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Michael B. Jordan's 'Just Mercy' Moves to Awards Season Slot

    Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming legal drama “Just Mercy” has been shifted forward three weeks from Jan. 17 to Dec. 25 for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release. “Just Mercy” is based on the case of Walter McMillan, an African-American death-row prisoner who was exonerated in 1993 after being convicted five years earlier for a 1986 murder in [...]

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • Stuber Movie

    Disney Left With a Slate of Film Flops After Fox Deal

    Is Disney having buyer’s remorse? The studio would be forgiven if it were having some regrets after absorbing 20th Century Fox, the company that once generated big box office with the likes of “Avatar,” “Life of Pi,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” After “Dark Phoenix” bombed earlier this summer, Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista’s action comedy “Stuber” [...]

  • Taika Waititi Returning to Direct 'Thor

    Taika Waititi to Direct Marvel's 'Thor 4'

    Taika Waititi is returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The filmmaker will write and direct the sequel to his 2017 blockbuster “Thor: Ragnarok.” Waititi’s take on the fourth “Thor” movie puts Warner Bros.’ long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely. However, the studio hopes that “Akira” can get resume production with Waititi at the helm once [...]

  • Akira

    'Akira' Production Put on Hold by Warner Bros.

    Warner Bros. has put its long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely, sources tell Variety. Sources indicate that after a brief delay, the studio has pulled the plug on production indefinitely for the classic anime adaptation, which was set to begin later this fall. “Thor: Ragnarok” helmer Taika Waititi was on board to direct, and the [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content