An Action Hero (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – Youth Icon. Superstar. Action Hero. At the age of just 30, Maanav was at the peak of his career when he got caught up in an accident while filming in Haryana. Maanav, who was once a household name, is now living in hiding.

My Take – Though the core idea of a clash taking place between a local man and a screen legend has been well explored before in films like Fan (2016) starring Shah Rukh Khan and Driving Licence (2019) starring Prithviraj Sukumaran, what immediately sets apart this directorial debut from Anirudh Iyer, which he co-wrote with Neeraj Yadav, is that it mainly delves into celebrity culture and the fickle side of fame, while being packaged as an outlandish action comedy thriller.

Exactly on the lines of something only an actor of Ayushmann Khurrana‘s caliber could pull off.

Resulting in a smartly-crafted feature that thrills and tickles in equal measure. On the face of it, the film might seem like a simple revenge story, but sprinkled with a truckload of the news media’s eccentricities into the mix, the screenplay transforms it into a twisted tale of a superstar, who finds himself in an extraordinary situation.

It is a delicious plot, and director Iyer maintains a steady grip on the narrative throughout and follows his conviction to strike the right balance in the genre with excellent humor and wacky scenarios. Rarely has a Bollywood action film been this much fun and seldom has a Hindi film parodied the genre with such flair and intelligence.

Sure, it contains several logic-defying moments. And while most of them might make one question their own IQ, but in the end, we are tend to look past them and enjoy the unfolding of events on screen. Laced with dark humor, witty dialogues, one-liners and comic punches that stick the perfect landing, the film takes its job very seriously yet it never stops laughing at itself and delivering big-screen thrills.

The story follows Maanav Khurrana (Ayushmann Khurrana), a Bollywood megastar action hero and popular youth icon, who finds himself in an unexpected complication. While filming for his latest in Haryana, post pack-up, he accidentally ended up killing one Vicky Solanki, the younger brother of Bhoora Solanki (Jaideep Ahlawat), a notorious gangster and renowned local politician. Fearful of being arrested for a crime that was committed accidentally and investigated wrongly, Maanav immediately flies out to the U.K. to hide before his team can figure things out.

However what he didn’t expect was the insanity that ensues when Bhoora ends up chasing Maanav to London to avenge his brother’s death. Abandoned by the world that once adored him, Maanav is forced to use his wits, his physical strength and years of training for cinema to outwit his pursuers, convince the public of his innocence, and win back the life he had worked so hard to get for himself, hereby blurring the lines between being a reel life action hero and a real one.

The first project for director-writer Anirudh Iyer turns out to be a celebration of the Hindi cinema he has grown up on & wants everyone to feel that with him. With no pretensions to being deep, yet without insulting viewer intelligence, by giving us little time to think between twists, shootouts and chases, the film ends up being a fun package. It dips post-interval but picks up again with a brief observation on the lengths to which the ego will drive a human being and a tongue-in-cheek take on Bollywood’s underworld connections.

Yes, there are segments where it goes a little too over the top and tests our suspension of disbelief, but eventually the hero finishes with a flourish. Set in the times of post-truth when the media and intelligence agencies could make or break a celebrity, the film makes a stinging comment on their work in a fun way, but also makes a range of revelations about the nature of stardom, film fans, power dynamics, codes of honor and ill-directed masculinity.

The biggest strength of the film is director Iyer’s conviction to narrate this quirky tale of revenge in a certain way. The rich characterization, rapid pace, and intelligent plot devices manage to hold attention all throughout the narrative.

The screenplay is laced with some great one-liners and bizarre movements that take you by shock. Most importantly, director Iyer doesn’t use comedy as a formulaic beat. You won’t get a forced gag at regular intervals just because the film is supposed to be funny. In fact, jokes disappear for long periods. And when they arrive, they’re original, timely, and funny. There too, the film retains its delicious randomness.

One of the best aspects of the film is the way it showed the only TRP focused news channels and TV anchors with their high-pitched voices calling out Bollywood. The use of popular hashtag #BoycottBollywood comes across as a clever way to take a subtle jibe at the current scenario in the entertainment industry. One of the anchors so seamlessly mimicking a popular voice on news channels who sort of started his own battle with Bollywood, triggering genuine laughs.

Image change and body chiseling notwithstanding, it is hard to believe Ayushmann Khurrana giving it back to Jaideep Ahlawat in well-choreographed action sequences, but in terms of the point that the writers want to make, and it holds.

Running in a slightly different terrain, Ayushmann not only charms as the narcissistic Manav but also brings out the vulnerability of a star who suddenly finds himself alone despite all the money and fan following at his disposal. He revels in the silliness that the script sometimes throws his way, but cleverly makes silly look serious. Jaideep too is excellent as always. From his dialogue delivery to his body language he maintains to be this broody bad guy and gets everything right. There’s a degree of uncertainty in his actions that comes from the goodness in his character, which adds to the hilarity of the scenes.

In supporting roles, Jitender Hooda, Harsh Chhaya, Neeraj Madhav and Gautam Joglekar make the most of their scenes. Nora Fatehi and Malaika Arora who appear in the dance numbers bring in an ample dose of oomph factor. Akshay Kumar too appears in a hilarious and pleasantly surprising cameo. On the whole, ‘An Action Hero’ is an intelligently written action thriller that is wildly hilarious and outlandishly dark.

Directed – 

Starring – Ayushmann Khurrana, Jaideep Ahlawat, Akshay Kumar

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 130 minutes

 

One response to “An Action Hero (2022) Review!!

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Best Bollywood Films of 2022 – A MovizArk Take!!! | Welcome to Moviz Ark!·

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