Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Masaharu Fukuyama, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Kazuki Kitamura, Hikaru Yamazaki, Anne, Gin Maeda, Jun Fubuki, Hakuryu, Sansei Shiomi, Tetsushi Tanaka
RunTime: 2 hrs 8 mins
Released By: Encore Films
Official Website: www.encorefilms.com/midsummer
Opening Day: 5 December 2013
Synopsis: Based on the novel by best-selling author Keigo Higashino and a long-anticipated sequel to Suspect X. Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama) is back to solve more crimes in Midsummer’s Equation. In summer 2013, a man is found dead on the rocks below a concrete embankment… but there is more than meets the eye. Joining him on his quest are police detective Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka), Lieutenant Shunpei Kusanagi (Kazuki Kitamura) and a young woman (Anne) who holds the key that unlocks the mystery- the secrets that are buried away from the people. A boy (Hikaru Yamazaki) comes into his life and Yukawa struggles to protect him as he battles to solve the crime. Yukawa’s perfect plan rips apart as he gets caught in the complexity of human relationships, and only to learn the heart-breaking truth at the end.
One of Japan’s hottest pop star and actor, Masaharu Fukuyama returns as the mild mannered, bespectacled, Sherlock-like physicist Manabu Yukawa aka Detective Galileo following the ultra-successful Suspect X.
Adapted from bestselling author Keigo Higashino’s original work, Yukawa is invited to speak at a panel held at an idyllic sea costal town called Harigaura. Everything seems fine and normal till a former high-level policeman is mysteriously found dead near the Kawahata-owned family inn in which Yukawa is staying. Intrigued by Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka), Detective of the Metropolitan Police Department Criminal Investigations, Yukawa begins to unravel the haunting past of the Kawahatas including their daughter Narumi and the truth of a murder which happened 15 years ago.
While Suspect X was an ingenious battle of wits between a mathematician and a physicist, Midsummer Equation surprisingly pales in comparison. Like its predecessor, the plotting continues the theme of love conquers all; however not only is the case in question insipid but the subsequent proceedings function liked a predictable dramedy as well. Gone are the mind-blogging science jargon and intelligent metaphors, what we have in the end is a slow, sluggish pacing crime mystery anchored solely by the presence of the charismatic Masaharu Fukuyama.
That being said, without strong supporting characters liked Tsutsumi Shinichi as the tortured mathematician or Shibasaki Kou standing in for some comic relief opposite Fukuyama, there’s only so much to be desired. Anne Watanabe (daughter of Ken) portrayal of the suffering Narumi lacks a certain punch to make her character work, same goes to veteran actors, Gin Maeda and Jun Fubuki who played her parents despite their adequate performances. As she is relegated to a series of fleeting scenes on her cell phone, Yuriko Yoshitaka from Gantz is simply forgettable and doesn’t impresses in the role of a female detective.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Midsummer Equation is not the crime as it turned out. Instead it’s a showcase of Professor Manabu Yukawa’s humanity. Even with his self-proclamation for loathing of children (he claims to suffer from hives if he gets near them) and his truckload of eccentricities, Yukawa becomes the unlikely companion of Kyohei, the nephew of Narumi who has arrived from the city to stay with the Kawahatas for the summer. From applying his unique ways of science experiments to arouse the curiosity of the young boy who dislikes science and taking the initiative to teach the boy to face the truth when Kyohei learnt he is indirectly involved in the murder, Yukawa evolved from an aloof professor to a man who possessed much more love and care than on the surface.
Midsummer Equation boasts some excellent and breath-taking scenic shots courtesy of cinematographer Katsumi Yanagishima (Battle Royale, Outrage) and a soothing score co-written by the talented Masaharu Fukuyama. While this is a poor follow up to the first instalment lacking in terms of tension and major revelation, it is still a serviceable act saved by none other than the brilliant Detective Galileo.
(A simple crime drama saved solely by the presence of Masaharu Fukuyama)
Review by Linus Tee