Beyond Outrage (2012)
★★ / ★★★★
Two people are found dead in a car that had been pulled from underwater: the male was a cop and the female was a nightclub hostess. Two detectives, Kataoka (Fumiyo Kohinata) and Shigeta (Yutaka Matsushige), observe the scene from a distance. They suspect that the corpses have something to do with the Sanno clan, part of the yakuza, and the escalating influence it has garnered over the past five years under new leadership. Though Kataoka has a special connection with the Sanno family, even he is smart enough to know that hierarchy of power is due to be reshuffled.
Written, directed, and starring Takeshi Kitano, playing a former yakuza boss who is about to be released from prison, “Beyond Outrage” is a near-miss in that although there remains to be a story to be told after its predecessor, there is not enough suspense and thrills to sustain its rhythmic macho swagger. We sit through a plethora of dialogue and attempt to figure out the labyrinthine connections, potential twists, and power play, but the payoff leaves a lot to be desired.
When Kitano is front and center, one cannot help but pay attention to his character. Though Otomo is aging and seemingly penitent about what he has done in the past, especially toward a former rival, Kimura (Hideo Nakano), we cannot help but suspect he is up to something far greater than what his appearance and behavior suggest. Can a man with an extremely violent past, who has wielded so much power and influence, really lead a life that is simple, humble, and safe? The magic lies in Kitano being able to communicate conflicting emotions without saying a word or moving about. When his character utters a string of words or raises his voice just a little, there is precision in what is conveyed. I do not understand Japanese but he made me feel like I could.
The two leaders of the Sanno clan ought to have been fleshed out further. Kato (Tomokazu Miura) and his underboss, Ishihara (Ryô Kase), have signature dominating presences in that one his older and has a bit of weight while the latter is younger, wearing spectacles, and frail-looking. There is talk about how much they have done since the last film in order to extend the influence and power of their clan but we do not really get to see them put into action what they are supposedly great at doing. Instead, we watch them hold meetings and looking stern, sometimes yelling at their minions or demanding remuneration for being disrespected and dishonored.
Equally important is the lack of tension and depth of the relationship between the two detectives. I guess Shigeta is supposed to embody the audience’s perspective given his and our lack of experience or understanding of the yakuza. I did not feel as though he is an effective conduit because he does not say a lot or fails to ask the important questions when it really counts. In the latter half, I caught myself asking why the character was even written in the first place. Out of the supporting characters, he is the most dispensable.
The climax and falling action are quite limp. Dead bodies and shootouts do not mean a thing if the majority of people getting assassinated are mere minions or, worse, the picture reverting to off-screen deaths. What should contain excitement or thrill feels rushed. The snow burn of the first half does not at all complement the careless, inelegant execution of the final thirty minutes.