Mohanlal’s Villain movie review
B Unnikrishnan’s Villain, a crime thriller starting Mohanlal, Manju Warrier and Vishal Krishna, evokes such sentiments. It aspires to be a dark psychological thriller, centred around a genius cop who beats the villains using mind games than physical strength. But there is only so much it can achieve with an inane plot and a sillier screenplay.
“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.
The story unfolds in Kochi where the concept of winter clothes is unheard of, thanks to the year-long hot and humid weather. However, when you first see the film’s protagonist, Dr Mathews (Mohanlal), assistant deputy general of police, he is wearing a wool trench coat. He is in a dump yard, staring at a the scrap car, possibly damaged in a fatal accident. A tea-seller on a bicycle approaches him. After buying a cup of tea, Mathews, in a haze, hands over his credit card to the guy. In a more rational film, the presence of tea-seller in a dump yard would have raised questions, but in Villain, the trench coat and the tea-seller are natural elements in the absurd terrain that the film functions in.
Once a celebrated officer in the police department, Mathews is now preparing for an early retirement, thanks to a tragedy that happened in his personal life seven months ago. We know he is a gloomy man because he has a well-groomed beard and a perfectly set salt and pepper mane, the famous movie short-hands to portray a gloomy man. His superior officer, played by Siddique, asks him to take up one last assignment, a case of multiple murders in the city, before he hangs up his boots. Mathews is reluctant, yet he gives in to the request.
Mathews relies on coincidences, intuitions and wild guesses to solve the crime. In the final sequence, an angry villain asks Mathews to stop ‘playing mind games’ with him. This can leave you baffled because all you see is Mathews indulging in a rather dull conversation with two supposedly mighty criminals. The cop animatedly tells one of the killers, “Kid, there is enough time. Leave this maze of crime and go, live your life,” and you see that she has agreed to what he said. Where is the ingenious mind game we were promised of?
Villain isn’t a random superstar film made with little thought. Evidently, Unnikrishnan has done some homework, especially in etching out Mathew’s love for Neelima, and his resignation from life post her death. The background score by Sushin Shyam is great, and more importantly, aptly restrained. But it takes more than a few emotional moments and mood inducing music to pull off a fine crime thriller. When the film fails to interest you even in the crime, would solving those crimes be any edgy?
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.
Don’t go expecting a mass entertainer as the movie isn’t a pacy, atmospheric thriller like last year’s Oppam but is a tad above Unnikrishnan’s previous attempt Grandmaster.