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Commando 2 review: Vidyut Jammwal’s brain outmuscles his brawn

Release Date: 03 Mar 2017

Cinestaan Rating

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Mayur Lookhar

Though marred by many twists and turns and average acting, first-time director Deven Bhojani deserves credit for churning out a thrilling suspense- and action-packed drama.

He was a one-man army in the first film, but when you are on the trail of black money, even Commando Karanvir Singh Dogra needs a helping hand. Vidyut Jammwal is the sole survivor from the first Commando. Helmed by first-time director Deven Bhojani, Commando 2: The Black Money Trail sees Dogra finding new and imperfect colleagues in Bhavna Reddy, Zafar and presumably the RAW special cell boss played by Adil Hussain.

Maybe it was Bhojani's foresight that prime minister Narendra Modi would unleash a move to demonetize currency to rein in the black money menace. The film was conceived much before the move but Bhojani cashes in on it fully. So, Commando 2 begins by harping on the demonetization move orchestrated by the government with effect from 8 November 2016 in a bid to bring back black money stashed away in the country.

In Bhojani’s world of fiction one money launderer, Vicky Chadda, is being pursued by the Indian authorities to bust the black-money racket. The popular perception in Hindi cinema is that politicians are the scourge of all evil, and nothing more than corrupt leaders who use their powers to store black money abroad.

Bhojani is brave enough to drag Union home minister Leela (Shefali Shah) into this fictional trail. Leela flexes her power to ensure that Chadda doesn’t fall into the hands of Commando Karanvir. So, she assigns a team of misfits, led by inspector Bhaktawar (Freddy Daruwala), encounter specialist cop Bhavna Reddy (Adah Sharma), and hacker Zafar (Sumit Gulati). Both Bhaktawar and Reddy are tainted cops. Karanvir bulldozes his way into the team replacing a fourth corrupt member.

With such a disjointed team, the chances of success are next to nought. Nevertheless, Karanvir & Co set out for Malaysia to bring Chadda and his wife Maria (Esha Gupta) safely back to India.

Chadda and Maria confess to merely being pawns in the hands of the powerful and rich in India who wouldn’t let them breathe till they get hold of their black money. There is more to this story than meets the eye, though, as subsequent events unravel a different picture. Hunter Karanvir is now the hunted as he is not only being chased by the Malaysian and Thailand police but also by his own bosses who are baying for his blood. The film has some spectacular action, with sinister and cerebral plots.

Mere bravado is never enough as action genres need an effective script to supplement its high-octane action. Though it has its flaws, writer Ritesh Shah has penned a fine script that is both commendable and, importantly, saleable. Karanvir does have a Rambo (popular character played by Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone) persona and a few James Bond traits (disobeying rules, ladies’ man, friends dying around him), but writer Shah has complemented his brawn with a sharp brain.

Bhojani, largely known as a comic actor, had directed the action TV drama Pukaar (2014). With Commando 2, he has only proved why producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah chose him to helm the project. Yes, Bhojani has taken inspiration from Hollywood spy thrillers, but Commando 2 has a soul of its own. The first-time director deserves credit for churning out a thrilling, suspenseful, action-packed film that keeps you on the tenterhooks for the best part of its 2 hours 04 minutes.runtime. The background score deserves special mention as it complements the visuals perfectly.

Jammwal’s bulging biceps, six-pack abs, and Stallone look would be enough to attract his army of female audiences to the film. But he shows improvement as an actor, too. Men with brawn aren’t the ideal fit to play cerebral assassins, but Jammwal does well to flex both his muscles and brain. He is the ultimate action hero among the current crop of action stars, but he has a long way to go before he can get rid of the 'wooden actor' tag. However, he does well to curb this frailty here. Also, though the action sequences are fairly good, Jammwal and Co disappoint in key portions.

Sharma does well to provide the humour quotient with her (partly stereotyped) Telugu accent, but she is not an eye sore. She falls short in the action scenes. Yes, Bhavna Reddy is a misfit for a big mission like the black money trail, but as a cop who specialises in encounter killings, she often ends up playing a mute spectator to Karanvir.

There is a mystery attached to her character, but there is nothing else to write home about Esha Gupta's role. As in most of her films, Gupta wears designer dresses and puts oodles of make-up to sport her red pout. You can't help but wonder if Bhojani could have cast a better actress for such a pivotal role.

Like their characters, Daruwala and Gulati are misfits to the cast too. Save for hacking a computer at gunpoint, Zafar (Gulati) seldom shows his skills in Malaysia and Thailand. Zafar’s motto to join the mission is too melodramatic and archaic. We don't need a Muslim man to prove his patriotism by joining the intelligence bureau, not in 2017.

Thakur Anoop Singh, a new entrant to Hindi cinema, plays Chadda’s henchman. He is built like a beast and should have been a worthy foe to Karanvir. In an interview to Cinestaan.com earlier, Jammwal had claimed that all actors had signed a contract that the action sequences would be authentic with the actors taking a real beating. However, that can’t be said about the Jammwal-Singh fight as it lacks the requisite intensity.

You wish that fine actors like Adil Hussain, Prakash Belawadi and Shah had more screen space.

The prime problem with Commando 2 is the climax drama which completely turns around the landscape of the film. For all its promise of busting a huge racket and exposing powerful mandarins, the ‘black money’ buck stops at one destination. The final melodramatic visuals, transferring all the black money to poor farmers, is wishful thinking. You wonder if the film would have been more compelling if Bhojani hadn't included so many twists and turns. Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings, Commando 2 is a good action entertainer. Or, as desis would say, 'paisa vasool'. Worth the money.

Reviewed by Mayur Lookhar