An grisly unsolved double murder takes place in a Tokyo suburb. That’s simple enough of a premise for Rage, but not for long because of its three suspects. All three enter the lives of three groups of people whose worst instincts come out inadvertently because of them. The film’s basic premise is a push and pull. Like us in real life, these characters meet new people who they might not be able to trust perfectly. This is well-treated territory for Lee Sang-Il, who also directed the previous hit 2010 film Villain. That one also uses murder as a starting point to question human nature.
These three suspect show different types of drifters. The film touches on many themes, including how the complications for some men to start over and blend in. Tashiro (Kenichi Matsuyama) is in Chiba as a dock worker. He catches the eye of a man’s (Ken Watanabe) wayward daughter Aiko (Aoi Miyazaki). Naoto (Go Ayano), a shy queer man, meets Tokyo yuppie Yuma (Satoshi Tsumabuki) in a bathhouse situation. The last suspect is Tanaka (Mirai Moriyama). He’s a hippie who set himself up in an island near Okinawa where two teens (Suzu Hirose, Takara Sakumoto) live. These men vary in the way the people around them have their suspicions.
This thematically rich film with great potential unfortunately falls apart my mishandling its revelations. It’s as if Lee doesn’t know how the characters will handle such information about each other. Or worse, that their reactions towards each other seems so uniform. It’s a disappointing way to unfold a movie. That’s especially true since these characters are so diverse. They’re so equally passive in nature. This tense thriller turns into a cheap tearjerker but at least the transition isn’t so jarring. At least the actors try to sell it.