My memories of the movie were positive as it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. It was a mature-rated movie with nudity, violence, nihilistic themes, and a thoroughly disturbing ending. Re-watching it this month, I'm of slightly more mixed feelings. I'm seeing a lot of things which I have a new appreciation for but am also aware of the anime's transhier elements. It's a mix of high-art and grindhouse fun which doesn't always gel well.
|Duke's expression never changes but he emotes surprisingly well.|
Leonard Dawson's government allies get some of the most depraved, monstrous, and sick murderers in the world to assist them in what is probably Golgo 13's most difficult adventure yet. I can say so because I've read the manga, which basically consists of showing how awesome Golgo 13 is for X number of pages. Let's talk about the positives of this movie first.
|Some really good fight scenes throughout.|
The moral ambiguity and bleak black versus black morality of the piece is also amazing. I'm a big fan of antiheroes and pitch black villains. Here, Golgo 13 does not a single heroic thing but simply continues his job while the victim of his activities, Leonard, sinks to ever and worse depraved depths in order to get his revenge. By the end, even Leonard seems to realize he's allowed himself to become a far worse monster than Golgo 13 ever was.
|Laura Dawson's story is grimdark and I think could have ended better in a non-franchise movie.|
I've often stated the best grimdark fiction has the antiheroes against things which are pure evil. This movie has some truly monstrous ones with Snake, the Twins, and Professor Z. Characters which should be silly in an otherwise realistic thriller like a genetically-enhanced animal-human hybrid and cyborgs work because the characters are so bizarrely nightmarish.
I also responded well to the character of Laura Dawson, the widow of Golgo's victim, who is the sole voice of sanity in the storyline. Unfortunately, her story arc is one which doesn't really come to a satisfying conclusion as we'll discuss later. Now for the negatives. The first is the movie's opening forty minutes are a complete mess. Golgo 13 takes on two unrelated missions to the main narrative against a mafia don and an ex-Nazi which end in him being attacked by Dawson's mercenaries. These leave the plot completely disjointed and while entertaining, completely screw up the pacing.
|If you like your fiction dark and aren't easily offended. You may like this.|
In conclusion, this is an enjoyable movie for two-thirds and a mess for one-third of its run-time. I recommend it for anime fans who like their fiction darker than a black cup of coffee. Still, it's an enjoyable stylized noir and I liked it a lot. Golgo 13 may not be the most nuanced or emotional character but he certainly works well in his role.