Synopsis – An Indian soldier is assigned a mission to eliminate his former mentor, who has gone rogue.
My Take – Ever since its conception, this Siddharth Anand directed film has been in constant buzz, after all it starred two Bollywood action stars, Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff, pitted against each other in a ferocious face-off showcasing all they have, like muscle, abs, Greek God like stature and sex appeal. And if you have seen the trailer, the film is exactly that.
No doubt, there is ample amount of twist and turns in order to justify the genre, but eventually it all zero downs to serious action. Releasing all most year after YRF‘s last release, Thugs of Hindostan, the film which carried a hefty price tag, the hype for it starred two Bollywood icons Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan, sharing the screen first time together, and yet despite everything turned out to be a massive critical and commercial failure.
Thankfully, this film is a glorious return to form; an unadulterated resuscitation of both the Bollywood action genre and YRF’s propensity to mount a mainstream predictable entertainer that surprises and entertains in equal measure.
While in terms of a plot, to provide a base for the glamorization, patriotism has been chosen to prove who is more loyal to the nation, the rest of the film relies on high-speed chases, cars, gun fights, acrobatics, stunning locations and a loud background score. In the sense, it is a true blue contemporary Bollywood crowd-puller.
Whether you’re in Team Hrithik or Team Tiger, it is not going to matter, as you’re going to be whistling and applauding throughout, as they treat you to 154 minutes of pure entertainment.
The story follows Kabir Luthra (Hrithik Roshan), a highly qualified intelligence officer and one of India’s best soldiers, who much to the dismay of his reporting officer, Colonel Luthra (Ashutosh Rana), seems to have gone rogue, as he ended up killing one of the agency’s analyst instead of the proposed terrorist target.
While the defense minister orders to put him down before he can do anymore damage, Khalid (Tiger Shroff), Kabir’s protégé and a former member of his squad, volunteers for the task, mainly as he wants to piece together the puzzle behind Kabir’s mysterious and sudden movements. Hereby ensuing a chase that spans across Delhi, Iraq, Malta, Portugal, Kerala, and even the Arctic Circle.
As one would expect, the plot is littered with flashbacks, evil gangsters, betrayals, a generous withholding of information, and a climactic plot twist that in hindsight, will seem nothing short of genius. Yes the film is filled with loopholes, but in the film’s defense, it delivers what it actually promised since its promo: two good looking men clashing, along with action that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If anyone went in expecting path-breaking cinema, well, why?
Here, director Siddharth Anand, who tried his hand at impetuous action-romance in 2014’s Bang Bang led by Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif, after Salaam Namaste, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Bachna Ae Haseenon, and Anjaana Anjaani, has done here what few would have the daring and skill to do. He has created an action film that embraces and celebrates this bromance unabashedly.
The story too refuse to entertain anything that distracts from the prospect of watching both the male actors compete for attention. The film is evenly balanced between the actors, with several scenes showcasing their individual fitness levels, ability to command the camera, and dancing skills. The film’s first half already delivers everything we could ask for and it is only amplified in the second half, eventually culminating with a thrilling one-on-one fight.
The male leads, separated by a couple of generations and united by their ability to land punches and execute pirouettes without breaking a sweat, set the screen on fire. Fortunately for the film, there is barely a scene without either of them. Most of all, the film delivers mainly because of its brilliantly choreographed in fight sequences, thrilling high-speed chases, and high-stakes stunts.
Here, director Siddharth Anand teamed up with four action directors, Paul Jennings, Franz Spilhaus, SeaYoung Oh and Parvez Shaikh and it shows, as it wipes the floor with Saaho, a film made on a much higher budget. They have designed and executed the action sequences with finesse, raising the bar in Indian actioners by quite a few notches.
Hrithik Roshan‘s Kabir bringing down a massive army chopper is one particularly well-choreographed sequence. What’s more, in between all that powerful action, there’s also a sprinkling of humor, an unforgettable dance number with the dance icons themselves, and a few twists along the way.
Yet the film’s biggest asset is that the film knows its worth. It is best evidenced in its steadfast reluctance to pander to chest-thumping nationalism or exaggerated masculinity. Like almost every film made this year, the film makes a lot of noise about country and security and sacrifice.
The film features both Hindu and Muslim protagonists and the makers subvert the trope of a Muslim protagonist being asked to prove their allegiance to the country by sneakily subscribing to it. It must also be noted that the film as a whole takes care to underline its patriotism in big bold letters multiple times, whether it was about putting nation before self, or nation before love, or nation before anything.
Performance wise, both Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff bounce off each other quite well. Both actors turn in competent performances, with Tiger’s adoration and awe of his mentor, which forms the backbone of this saga, feels genuine and therefore lends heft to some implausible twists and turns. However, Hrithik‘s presence in this film is God-like and the world of the film revolves around him. He gets the meatiest lines, hero like entry and scenes but without any intricacies of the character he is playing.
While Vaani Kapoor is billed as the lead actress, she is woefully underused and more than half of her shortened screen time involves her being solely an eye candy. Comparatively, Anupriya Goenka gets the meatier part, and contributes more to the film, both performance and plot wise. In a supporting turn, Ashutosh Rana also manages to keep his hold. On the whole, ‘War’ is an action-packed entertainer which deserves a watch for its two talented leads, Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff.
Directed – Siddharth Anand
Rated – PG15
Run Time – 154 minutes