Synopsis – Amar is assigned to investigate a case of serial killings. When Amar investigates the case, he realizes it is not what it seems to be and following down this path will lead to nothing but war between everyone involved.
My Take – It is hard to believe that Kamal Haasan has been missing from the big screen for almost four years. While he has been actively present in the public eye, whether playing an active role in his political party, or by charming the small screen audience as the host of the reality show, Bigg Boss Tamil, what fanboys (like myself) missed was the superstar’s presence in a feature, that played to his well proven capabilities.
His latest venture, a Tamil-language action thriller film, which has also been dubbed and released in Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam, sees Haasan return to a role he originally played in a 1986 film of the same name, and right from the first preview, it was evident he couldn’t have asked for a better comeback.
Mainly as despite offering glimpses at his character’s former life of a spy, writer-director Lokesh Kanagaraj retains nothing from its predecessor, but instead uses Hassan‘s magnetic persona and a fresh story to extend upon the world he created in the critically and commercially successful, Kaithi (2019), hereby officially establishing the Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU).
Unsurprisingly, given the filmmaker’s small yet excellent filmography, the resulting film is a 174 minute long out-and-out entertainer that expertly uses its stellar cast in an established template, all the while setting the bar high for upcoming multi-starrers.
Mounted with superlative production values and a breathtaking pace, the film doesn’t contain a single dull moment. Sure the writing is slightly generic, but considering the package on a whole, here, director Lokesh Kanagaraj, a self-proclaimed Kamal Haasan fan, has created something not many filmmakers could have envisioned, let alone executed, a franchise that is only going to expand further on.
Beginning a few months after the events of Kaithi, which saw the biggest drug bust by the Tamil Nadu police, the story initially follows Amar (Fahadh Faasil), the leader of a black ops unit, who is assigned by Police Chief Jose (Chemban Vinod Jose) to look into the serial killings of a masked vigilante group, who have been calling their actions a war against the system.
However, what puzzles Amar the most during his investigation is the selection of their third victim, Karnan (Kamal Haasan), the father of the first victim, martyred cop Prapanchan (Kalidas Jayaram), and the irregular reports surrounding his personality, lifestyle and connections.
Determined that all of this connects to two missing containers of raw material drugs belonging to Sandhanam (Vijay Sethupathi), a fearsome drug lord with an irregularly large family, Amar unknowingly finds himself between in a war he was unprepared for.
Shot in striking colors that indicate urgency and intrigue, writer-director Lokesh Kanagaraj deserves praise for bringing back the highly underrated character of Agent Vikram, more than three decades later, and for using it so effectively in a story that could not have been told better.
Paced at a breakneck speed, the film’s first half is a fascinating exercise as it takes it’s time to introduce the audience to its world and the character’s motivations. All done to set up its terrific action set pieces in the latter half.
Sure, at times, it does feel like writer-director Lokesh Kanagaraj is bloating the story-line with too many players, but it never really drags the film, and successfully manages to merge key characters from Kaithi (2019) to set the stage for what could be Indian cinema’s biggest franchise in the making. It also helps that Anirudh Ravichander’s music, especially the background score, plays a pivotal role in amplifying the experience of watching the film on the big screen.
It isn’t that the screenplay doesn’t falter or everything is perfect but one thing that cannot be ruled out at all, is the bravura to envision and execute something so ambitious.
Performance wise, Kamal Haasan as one would expect, doesn’t miss a single beat. Though we do not get to see him much in the first half, the 67 year old actor owns the second half. Throughout, Haasan skillfully transitions the many facets of his character and keeps that intrigue intact till it is completely revealed.
Fahadh Faasil, who probably has the meatiest role amongst the cast is absolutely brilliant as the relentless cop. Though he is mostly subdued, he engages the audience with his emotional performance. Vijay Sethupathi once again towers with his performance as the ruthless drug lord and seems to be having a blast bring his unique take. There is no limit to his character’s eccentricities and atrocities, and Sethupathi does a stellar job with each and every scene.
In supporting roles, Chemban Vinod Jose, Narain, Santhana Bharathi, Kalidas Jayaram, Gayathrie Shankar, Ramesh Thilak, Maya S. Krishnan, and Vasanti add value to the film. Suriya too is excellent in his cameo, setting up high expectations for the things to come. On the whole, ‘Vikram’ is an ambition action extravaganza that delivers absolute rollicking entertainment.
Directed – Lokesh Kanagaraj
Rated – PG15
Run Time – 174 minutes