DNA profiling changes the face of crime fighting in sci-fi tinged Japanese blockbuster “Platinum Data”, directed by “Rurouni Kenshin” helmer Otomo Keishi. Based on a novel by bestselling suspense author Higashino Keigo (“Suspect X”), the film is set in the near future (“One of these days” according to opening credits, later clarified as 2017) and revolves around Arashi’s Ninomiya Kazunari as the scientist behind the new system, who ends up accused of murder and on the run. The film also features an impressive supporting cast, which includes Toyokawa Etsushi (“20th Century Boys”) as the detective on his trail, along with Mizuhara Kiko (“Norwegian Wood”), Anne (“Yokai Ningen Bem”), Suzuki Honami (“The Floating Castle”) and Namase Katsuhisa (“Gokusen”).
The film opens with veteran detective Asma (Toyokawa Etsushi) arriving at the National Police Authority’s Special Analysis Research Institute (SARI) to get help in tracking a child murderer through the use of a new DNA profiling system for catching criminals. Although the method works, Asama suspects that the data used was illegal, a fact which the seemingly emotionless scientist Kagura Ryuhei (Ninomiya Kazunari) who created the process admits. This is only a temporary setback, with a national DNA act soon to be passed allowing the gathering of data from all citizens. Things get more complicated after a multiple homicide at SARI, including Ryuhei’s partner Saki (Mizuhara Kiko), an autistic savant maths genius who programmed the system. Ryuhei analyses the DNA from the scene, and is shocked to find himself suddenly the prime suspect, promptly going on the run, with Asama, the rest of the police, and SARI’s own corporate forces after him.
“Platinum Data” certainly has the look and feel of a big commercial blockbuster, not least since it recalls a variety of Hollywood hits, including “Minority Report”, “The Fugitive” and more. Though its plot may sound complex, it quite quickly boils down to a chase thriller and conspiracy suspenser, with Ryuhei rushing around between clues and revelations while trying to stay one step ahead of his potentially sinister system. This isn’t to say the film lacks intelligence, however, and while the science fiction elements and moral debates are kept to the background, this arguably helps director Otomo Keishi create a far more believable world and story than had they been used in more gimmicky fashion.
With a solid central mystery and plenty going on, the film manages a good balance between Ryuhei’s flight and investigation, Asama’s pursuit, and other various subplots and scheming by typically corrupt authorities. A mid-film lapse into ponderousness aside, the script is generally satisfactory, and builds towards a finale which, if hardly surprising, is satisfying enough. Though a bit long at two hours and fifteen minutes, the film is for the most part tense, with some well-handled action and twists helping to keep the pace engaging and occasionally exciting – though the constant use of a timelines onscreen never really feels necessary. The production values are high throughout, Otomo making good use of what was obviously a high budget to deliver some impressive set pieces and decent special effects work, and this similarly makes the film a slick and very watchable viewing experience.
This is also due to some good performances from the cast, in particular from Ninomiya Kazunari. His Kagura Ryuhei is an interesting protagonist, whose character goes through some fairly major, and potentially ridiculous changes during the running time, and the actor manages to keep him grounded and even vaguely likeable. Though playing an essentially straightforward grizzled and hard-nosed detective, Toyokawa Etsushi is similarly effective, and Mizuhara Kiko, despite sadly not getting too much screen time, is appealing in her supporting flashback role.
There’s more than enough here to make “Platinum Data” a perfectly enjoyable blockbuster, and above average for this kind of thing. Capably directed and acted, it entertains and thrills as required, and though scarcely original, it at least has a couple of ideas in its head, which is more than can be said for many other commercial productions of its type.
Keishi Ohtomo (director) / Keigo Higashino (based on the novel by), Hideya Hamada (screenplay)
CAST: Kazunari Ninomiya … Ryuhei kagura
Etsushi Toyokawa … Reiji asama
Honami Suzuki … Eriko mizukami
Katsuhisa Namase … Takashi shiga
Anne Watanabe … Lisa shiratori
Kiko Mizuhara … Saki tateshina