What sort of film is The Returner? It's a film in which the hero and heroine decide to take a break from their end of the world preventing mission by taking a shopping trip. If that monumental shift in tone makes you gasp and sputter in horror then STAY AWAY. If however, that bit of quirk has stirred your interest, find a theater playing The Returner and see it. Now.
The Returner involves badass hitmen, childhood vendettas, post apocalyptic futures, and characters who seem to have escaped from Japanese Anime. Incoherent? Yes. Silly? Of course. Fun and cool as all hell? I'm surprised you even had to ask.
Miyamato (Takeshiki Kaneshiro) is a man driven by the death of a childhood friend. As a yakuza hitman he has made it his prime goal to take down the man responsible, a rival yakuza boss named Mizoguchi (Goro Kishitana). In the first of their many (and I do mean MANY) battles Miyamato accidentally shoots Miri (or Milly depending on who you ask) (Ann Suzuki), a post apocalyptic party girl who has come back from the future to keep the end of the world at bay. If you found that complete ripoff of The Terminator sickening, wait just a tick. You see she also brought back this machine that "slows down time" allowing her to not only rip off the Terminator but The Matrix in the same breath. Anyway Miri manages to convince Miyamato to help her let ET out of a big Yakuza compound (Who knew that the Japanese mafia was so interested in Alien Babies?). You see ET wants to phone home NOW, and in a couple of days his alien race, the Daggra, is going to come down and give him a hand, in the process, well you know doom mankind. Follow that? If you didn't don't worry about it. The Returner isn't about badly done bullet time, and CGI alien fleets. It's about the anarchistic sense of fun that pervades the very soul of the film.
This more then any film I've ever seen is Anime come to life. Miri the main character IS an anime girl, I'm convinced. The action is blistering and hardcore, the humor is pitch black, and the characters are infectiously likeable despite a lack of depth, and there's plenty of post apocalyptic and childhood rooted angst to fuel several GAINAX series (If you understood that last comment at all this is the film for you).
So lets get down to the nitty gritty for those of you who didn't run away from your computer shrieking upon reading the words "post apocalyptic" party girl. You already know if this movie is for you or not to get all oracle type Zen on you "You've already decided whether to see this movie or not, you're here to know if you can feel good about this decision". The answer is yes and no. No this movie doesn't have any redeeming social value. You want to hold something above your friends with a snide "I'm sooo much more cultured then you" go see Sylvia. If you want a movie where you just have fun (remember that) but don't have to sit through the hundredth Bruckheimer clone of the season, then yes go see The Returner. It’s a giddy little pop song of a movie, it’s infectious, and you'll find yourself humming bars even if you don't want to.