In a movie that features a time-traveling samurai that is the living(?) embodiment of vengeance, school children providing cynical takes on the nature of democracy, ruminations on the endlessly cyclical nature of violence, and an ethereal guitar man filming his own music videos off to the side, there really isn't all that much to "get" here. Izo rampages through different periods of time and kills everyone - everyone - that he sees. That's pretty much it.
But man, some absurd shit happens during said rampage. I took more notes watching this movie than I ever have while watching a movie before, in a futile effort to try to keep track of it all. A few highlights include:
- An old man with a robotic voice shooting a gun at Izo, prompting sort-of bullet time to happen
- A woman holding herself up between two trees after having the lower half of her body sliced off
- Random footage of global conflicts throughout history and clips from sex-ed videos are thrown in
- Izo screaming "You are shit!' as a retort to an Archbishop
- A cameo from an MMA fighter that prompts the protagonist to start speaking in English out of nowhere for a minute or so
- A guy that looked like a Japanese Justice Scalia talking about how perfections needs to create imperfection in order to remain perfect or something
The initial cumulative effect of all of this was exhilarating. For the first 40 minutes or so, I was either laughing or left in a state of total bewilderment. Very few scenes last longer than two minutes, which can give the impression that there's a lot going on here. The longer the movie goes on for, however, the more it feels like the same exact thing happening over and over again, and it starts to feel like a slog. In some ways, it feels like a direct translation of a video game to film, with the player character killing hundreds upon hundreds people in different levels for no real reason.
But whatever, there's this scene at the end where Izo chops someone's head off, and then a bunch of butterflies shoot out of it, and then the corpse becomes a caterpillar, and then it turns out that they're in space. That won me over again.