At The Movies: In a zombie wasteland, the rich of Love You As The World Ends rule – The Straits Times

At The Movies: In a zombie wasteland, the rich of Love You As The World Ends rule – The Straits Times

Love You As The World Ends (NC16)

115 minutes, opens on June 20

3 stars

The story: A global viral outbreak has turned humans into biting creatures known as golems. In the middle of the wasteland are two skyscrapers populated by the privileged. One houses scientists looking for a vaccine and the other is run by the scientists’ masters, the wealthy. In the basements are the teeming masses. Among them is Hibiki (Ryoma Takeuchi), a man looking to break into the heavily protected floors above. His small band of raiders, each with different motives for joining, will have to fight soldiers and golems to reach their goals.

This Japanese action horror movie was created to cap four seasons of the television series of the same name (2021 to  2023, with a fifth season in 2024), but viewers who did not follow the show should not worry about getting lost. The state of the world is explained in detail at the start, with backstories flashed on screen every time a new character appears.

The story is a standalone action piece about a ragtag unit fighting from floor to floor, in the style of Indonesian action thriller The Raid (2011), but with more guns and less martial arts.

The underdogs-versus-soldiers plot is, like most aspects of Love You As The World Ends, done in a straightforward televisual style.

Also carried over from television are the oversized dramatic moments – villains cackle, heroes expire bravely, children are thrust into harm’s way to raise the stakes.

The visuals could have descended into repetition as the gun battles blend into one another. However, the gunfights are relatively few and short-lived. Instead, the raiders find surprises on each floor, each one highlighting the moral depravity of those who claim to act for the greater good.

Elevating this above the run-of-the-mill is the idea that animates the story: When the world falls, resource-hoarding by the rich will be more deadly than zombies. There are zombie shows that say that totalitarianism will be the real evil in a fallen world (The Last Of Us, 2023 to present) or that men with guns will rule as despots (The Walking Dead, 2010 to 2022; 28 Days Later, 2002).

Asian post-apocalyptic movies, however, such as Love You As The World Ends and South Korea’s Train To Busan (2016) tend to find the wealthy guilty of making everything worse. This is an interesting difference between Hollywood and Asia, speaking to regional beliefs about where ultimate power rests.

The “Love You” in the film’s title deals with the love of family – the love between a father and a daughter, to be specific. That bond animates the story, backed by a ticking-clock plot involving tower scientists willing to do the unthinkable in the search for a vaccine.

Hot take: For all its flaws as a project made to please fans of the Japanese series, this work has its moments as an action thriller that pits a determined band of raiders against an organised army.

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