Master movie review: Vijay delivers a largely entertaining star vehicle

Published on Jan 13, 2021 02:16 PM IST

Master movie review: With both Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi in top form, Lokesh Kanagaraj's film makes for a perfect festival release.

Master movie review: Vijay stars in the year's first masala action film.
Master movie review: Vijay stars in the year's first masala action film.
ByHaricharan Pudipeddi


Director - Lokesh Kanagaraj

Cast - Vijay, Vijay Sethupathi, Malavika Mohanan, Shanthanu Bhagyaraj, Arjun Das

Lokesh Kanagaraj is fast growing into one of the most exciting filmmakers in Tamil cinema. After proving his mettle with films such as Maanagaram and Kaithi, which worked even though they didn’t feature stars, Master is Lokesh’s maiden attempt at true-blue commercial cinema with one of the industry’s biggest stars, Vijay. He proves himself yet again, even if Master panders to Vijay’s fans more than the director's own.

In spite of some minor flaws, like the long-drawn second half, Master is a largely entertaining Vijay vehicle, anchored by a terrific central performance and an equally good supporting act by Vijay Sethupathi.

Watch the Master trailer here

Master opens with the spotlight on Sethupathi's antagonist, Bhavani, and it sets him up as an almost mythical villain who can kill anyone with a single punch. If you’re wondering how one blow can be so fatal, there’s a nice reason behind it, which makes it believable. The first 15-20 minutes are spent on establishing Bhavani’s character, and the story of how he built his empire with young criminals from a juvenile home. Just when one gets the feeling that Bhavani has almost become almost invincible, in comes JD (Vijay) – a hip, laid-back professor with a drinking problem.

Lokesh leaves his signature in quite a few places, but Master still feels like a Vijay film. Thankfully, it isn’t one where Vijay’s character is screaming heroism – which is the case with most of his movies. We get a very subdued lead character and it’s refreshing to see Vijay deliver a laid-back performance. He plays a guy with a serious drinking problem and it almost feels like Vijay was tipsy even while performing his scenes.

Master does, however, suffer from a heavy Petta hangover. Like Rajinikanth’s last film, Master is also set in a college campus. In both these films, the hero becomes a sort of messiah figure for the students. While there are other similarly themed films from the past, the comparison with Petta makes more sense because it was released recently.

Be it Maanagaram or Kaithi, Lokesh pushed the bar when it came to action. He doesn’t disappoint with the action in Master, but he does slightly go overboard. Possibly because he felt it’s a star film and audiences won’t mind some degree of overindulgence? The pre-climax action stretch, featuring both Vijay and Andrea Jeremiah, is a bit of a downer, especially when you compare it with a similar chase sequence in Kaithi involving lorries.

Nevertheless, both lead actors have ample space to shine, and Sethupathi, in his most effortless self, is once again a treat to watch. The film does dip in the second half and it occasionally gets tiring, but it’s the anticipation of the clash between Bhavani and JD that keeps the film alive. Their final confrontation is worth the wait.

Apart from the terrific screen presence of the two leads, Anirudh Ravichander’s music is one of the reasons why Master, which is the first star-studded release since the pandemic, warrants a visit to the theatre. With his background score and Sathyan Sooryan’s visuals, Master makes for a perfect festival release.

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