Villain movie review: This Mohanlal film is slow, lacks impact

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Jul 29, 2019 06:52 PM IST

Villain movie review: The film starring Mohanlal, Vishal, Hansika Motwani and others is not a stimulating investigative thriller.

Director - B Unnikrishnan
Cast - Mohanlal, Vishal, Hansika Motwani
Rating - 2/5

Villain movie review: Mohanlal plays the role of a police officer, Mathew Manjooran.
Villain movie review: Mohanlal plays the role of a police officer, Mathew Manjooran.

“Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand,” Mohanlal’s character quotes Lady Macbeth as saying in a film that begins with multiple murders. But, even as the audience settles in for an interesting cinematic experience, the slow pace, heavy dialogues and disconnected character arc take the thrill out of this investigative thriller.

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Villain is all about how Mathew Manjooran (a police officer played by Mohanlal) and Dr Shaktivel Palaniswamy (played by Vishal) cross paths. Mathew has returned to work after a long leave of absence, and ends up getting a series of murders that need solving. But he has his own demons to slay first. The police officer has lost his family, and we see flashes of how that happened. There is a particularly brilliant scene in the narrative, where we see Mohanlal suddenly waking up from a nightmare. However, when one looks at the big picture, the flashbacks seem disjointed.

While we get to know Mathew and his family, we have niggling doubts about Shaktivel – who is he and where is he from? His character as an anti-hero in intriguing, but it is not explored to its full potential. In terms of performance too, Vishal fails to live up to his character’s demands and that weighs down on important scenes. He faces loss, but the intensity is missing. He is frustrated with the system that he is a part of, but there is no depth in his expressions. He is betrayed in the end, but the shock is absent. He utters impactful dialogues, but there is no power to them. An individual who thinks that the country needs a dictator and feels he is the right man for the job needs to express his ‘God complex’ a little more convincingly.

Shaktivel has a strange and strong connection with Shreya (played by Hansika), his accomplice. Their intriguing relationship, which mirrors a maniac’s mad love, could have added the much-needed depth to his character. The director, however, fails to explore it fully.

Coming back to Mathew, we see a man who is intelligent and has the skill to deconstruct a crime scene unlike anyone else. His introduction, however, shows a man who is lost. That’s appropriate, considering that he did lose his family. Mathew resumes duty for a day before he chooses to take voluntary retirement. However, circumstances require him to solve one last case that – incidentally – brings him face-to-face with his family’s murderer.

The way Mathew struggles between vengeance and justice, the way he quotes Lady Macbeth and addresses life as a dark comedy, and the way he deals with his loss bring out every contrasting shade of his complex character. His colleague, Harshita Chopra (played by Rashi Khanna), observes that there are times when he seems unhinged. These instances are probably the best scenes in the film. The one where he tells Harshita to not push him, because he is standing on a fine line between suicide and murder, does hit you hard.

These characters connect with each other and the plot in a convincing manner. Srikanth as Felix D’Vincent, however, does not seem very convincing. His link with Mohanlal is abstract, and his connection to the present incidents is forced. This affects the flow of a film that already suffers from a slow pace.

“Killing another human being is the most unnatural act in this world.” This statement delivered by Mathew, followed by his observation of the difference between killing out of love and killing out of hate, should have made the climax stunning. Many elements – such as the heavy silence, the words that weigh heavy on the mind, and the relentless questioning of one’s belief – should have worked in favour of a film that tries to say: “Nothing is white, nothing is black, everything is grey.”

However, the attempt is botched up by half-baked performances, a weak screenplay and an unnecessary song. The intensity required to build the audience’s interest is absent, making it easy to guess what is going to happen next. The faulty dubbing of Hansika and Srikanth is also irksome, though this is only a small woe when compared to everything else in the movie.

The author tweets @Priyanka_S_Mcc

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