Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: The Big Bee – half-hearted commentary on Japan’s nuclear debate

Thriller has so many coincidences it loses its way; a banal subplot doesn’t help

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 January, 2016, 4:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 January, 2016, 5:18pm

A thriller built around Japan’s debate over the future of nuclear power, The Big Bee turns out to be far more provocative in concept than it is in execution. Directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, who has demonstrated a knack for adapting bestsellers for big-screen consumption with the 20th Century Boys trilogy and last year’s Initiation Love , this sprawling take on Keigo Higashino’s 1995-set novel wraps itself in so many strands of coincidental development that its central thesis becomes an afterthought.

When a newly developed model of giant helicopter – named the Big B – is stolen from the ministry of defence, loaded with explosives and made to hover above a nuclear power plant, flight designer Yuhara (Yosuke Eguchi) is troubled by the fact his young son is accidentally on board. As the mysterious hijacker, armed with a remote control, threatens to let the unmanned aircraft crash once its fuel runs out, officials are forced to contemplate his demand to shut down all nuclear plants in Japan.

While police inspectors race to locate the perpetrator and the plant administrators argue over feasible ways to minimise casualties, The Big Bee sometimes plays like a thrilling police procedural that’s repeatedly distracted by overblown strategic talks at the crisis meeting. An emerging plot line about a chief engineer (Masahiro Motoki) and a clerk (Yukie Nakama) working at the reactor sidesteps the ethical issues about nuclear power and shifts the focus to banal personal tragedies.

The Big Bee opens on January 21