The Brain Man (original title Nô Otoko) is a film adaptation of the novel by Shudô Urio with the same title that was published in 2000. Director Tokiyuki Takimoto, mainly known for his film Ikigami (2008), manages to bring Shudô Urio’s story to live for the big screen.
A series of bombings occur in Tokyo and the police, including detective Saya (Yôsuke Eguchi), is thoroughly investigating to find the person responsible for these horrible crimes. When a lead brings them to a deserted warehouse, they encounter a mysterious man (Tôma Ikuta). They take him into custody, thinking he is the culprit. But during interrogation, the man appears to be abnormally intelligent, physically powerful and unable to sense any emotion. Psychiatrist Mariko Mashiya (Yasuko Matsuyuki) becomes fascinated with him as she and her colleague start to wonder if he really is the one they are looking for.
As one can see from the synopsis, The Brain Man is a mystery surrounding an extraordinary person. Tôma Ikuta was cast for the role and does what the story asks of him: portraying a character unable to sense emotion. With an unfocused, yet penetrating stare in his eyes, he portrays the man shrouded in mystery. It makes his role feel kind of empty sometimes, but it nevertheless works somehow as the story progresses.
Even though Ikuta has top billing, Yasuko Matsuyuki, who plays the psychiatrist that examines him, carries the movie. She plays it cool and effectively as we learn her character has her own share of troubles in life. Yôsuke Eguchi portrays the classic tough cop that shouldn’t be messed with. His character lacks depth compared to the other two main actors, but this fortunately doesn’t hurt the plot.
Then there is Fumi Nikaidô (from Lesson of Evil) teamed up with Ôta Rina, portraying two crazy, creepy girls. Nikaidô basically plays the opposite of her character from Lesson of Evil, which is interesting to see, as she is effectively and uncomfortably creepy. But one can’t help but think that it has been done many times before: crazy Japanese girl with a dead yet insane stare in her eyes doing horrific things. Her character is something that appears in more Japanese horror and thriller films so if you have seen many of these, her performance isn’t extraordinary and kind of “same old same old”. Nevertheless, she does manage to handle the role and succeeds in what it requires her to do.
The story starts out as a nice mystery, but switches into a standard thriller in the third act. The mysterious element is what made the film interesting so it is unfortunate that this turn occurs, but it does achieve to remain entertaining throughout. The main problem is that it eventually isn’t able to avoid falling into being a bit too dramatic at a certain point, which the movie could have done without. Fortunately the ending makes up for these weaknesses and wraps up the loose ends.
Director Takimoto doesn’t surprise that much when it comes to the technical aspects of the film, but the camerawork is pretty solid and the editing is smoothly done. The Brain Man turns out being a fun movie experience that satisfies overall, even though it can’t avoid getting a bit melodramatic.
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