The ability to stop an Alien invasion of present day Earth lies with a young woman from the future , sent back from a ravaged world beset by the mighty race known as Daggra. She has just three days to stop what she believes to be the first of the Daggra breaching Earths defences , but what she discovers is much less Alien and far more invasive.
Japan 2002 paints a typically neon lit diorama pastiche of an environment Alien to all but those who inhabit it , and within its captivating night glow the Yakuza snare those who seek entrance. A human body organs importation racket of Chinese people is headed up by the pitiless and malignant lead bad guy Mizoguchi , but right on his case is the soldier of fortune in the sanguine makeup of Miyamoto. The black leather long length fatigued vanguard of virtue appears on the scene of one of Mizoguchi’s exchanges , arriving like a steed less knight stepping off the set of ‘ Highlander ’. The Action is apace and deliverance of justice swift , yet Miyamoto’s objective falls just short with the arrival of time travelling future girl Milly , enabling Miyamoto to take evasive action. With time against her Milly has no choice but to embroil a reluctant and highly sceptical Miyamoto into her mission , which with a tale of extra terrestrial incursion is not what this Japanese with Chinese heritage gun for hire has time for. A precocious trick or two and a display of incredible future technology in the form of a wrist adornment , that has the ability to slow time around the wearer , has Milly pooling resources to tag Miyamoto along for the task in hand. It is not long before his reluctance diminishes as proof of an Alien occupied space ship is uncovered , and amongst its gathering of incarcerating scientists is the Yakuza operations representative in Mizoguchi.
The stunning vision of a war torn Earth whose cities are raised to the ground by the Daggra aggressors gives a glimpse of what Milly is fighting to avert from even occurring , as she and Miyamoto infiltrate the base where the Daggra being and its intergalactic vessel dwell. The stark picture of an exoskeleton wearing species and huge air born crafts , with morphing technology bearing down upon humanity , is reminiscent of the futuristic skyline of ‘ The Terminator ’. This rise of the machines is a spectacular display of special effects and an insight to the future Earth of the year 2084.
As Milly and Miyamoto take on the bad guys looking down upon events from space are the Daggra race , double parked on the vestige of our planets stratosphere , watching and waiting with curious diplomacy !. What unravels is the eventual truth between Earths two time lines and a final outcome that combines Action with special effects to a high degree of Audience appreciation.
To be critical of ‘ Returner ’ overall would be unfair as with having experienced the whole , rather than judging its parts as they unravel , should leave the viewer with that satisfied pick me up feeling. Where Director Takashi Yamazaki does perhaps unintentionally bog proceedings down is in his ambiguous style of mixing on screen events for his intended audiences , such plural instigation of both family film and more adult orientated violence is misguided. Yamazaki’s previous film is the engaging science fiction outing ‘ Juvenile ’ and cutsie elements have been transposed here , including co-star Ann Susuki , but it is with the burst of blood spurting bullets and body slicing lasers that perk the most interest in ‘ Returner ’.
Female lead Ann Susuki is very charming in her role as the adorably feisty Milly but when stoic male lead Takeshi Kaneshiro , as the solitary mercenary Miyamoto , takes her on a shopping trip when they only have three days to save the world , the hard core action fans in the audience will be wondering if they have been caught themselves with a cruel trick of time wasting travel.
It is the impressive stunt work laced with the decorative glimpses of a war torn future that override the schmaltzy character interaction and when the climatic sequence , set upon a deep sea oil rig , plays out amidst a flurry of Action and style you may well end up overlooking its shortcomings. If you take equal parts of ‘ Independence Day ’ , ‘ E.T ’ and ‘ The Terminator ’ dressed up with a ‘ Matrix ’ wax ‘n polish you’ll find ‘ Returner ’ shines up quite nicely. The end product warrants the price of admission but don’t be surprised at the ‘NC’ unsure Rating.
Presentation : Widescreen 1:85:1 / Anamorphic
Release : Amuse Pictures
Coding : NTSC Region 2 Japan
Sound : DTS / Dolby Digital 5.1
Extras : Two Disc Special Limited Edition Box Set / Film Postcard Set /
Japanese Commentary Track / Pre Production Design /
In Prodcution / Post Production / On Set Video Diaries /
Days Of Returner Shoot / Advertising / Promotion /
Behind The Scenes / Easter Eggs / Special Effects /
Story Boards / Trailers / TV Spots / R2 Teaser