Unshaven and distraught, Mathew Manjooran had the look of a man who has not fully recovered from a terrible trauma. Played by Mohanlal, Mathew, a sincere police officer in B Unnikrishnan's Malayalam movie Villain, is introduced in the film as he inspects a crushed car and a lorry at a police scrapyard. It portends a car crash, death. The emotions flashing on his face tell you that it has something personal.
Now you guessed it. He is an efficient cop and losing his family members is of course an inevitable ingredient of the script to trigger an instant emotional appeal.
Wait, this is not a spoiler. But, isn't it a cliché moment we witness in most of these investigation thrillers? Here's a difference though, I should say, and the director decides not to kill the close relative of the protagonist. She's in a coma, instead.
We meet Mathew on the day he rejoins the police force after seven months of leave. But he chooses to take voluntary retirement the very next day. As a last mission in his service, he will be part of an investigation that deals with the death case of three well-known personalities whose bodies were found in a disputed property.
How he finds the killers and their motive behind the crime, which will be followed by another three murders, form the storyline of Villain. Mathew is part of the investigation even after his retirement! As he is the only efficient police officer in the department who can unravel the mystery behind the murders by recreating the crime scenes. Does it sound similar to Jeethu Joseph and Prithviraj Sukumaran's Memories?
What stands out best?
Mohanlal's outstanding performance is the best USP of Villain. When he says he is moving through a fine line between suicide and murder, you feel like he is the only actor who can express those emotions with eyes without even shedding a drop of tear.
High quality technical aspects make Villain a visual treat. The makers have claimed that Villain is shot completely using 8K technology. The visuals by Manoj Paramahamsa and NK Ekambaram are beautiful and intense. Shameer Mohammed's editing was okay and background score by Sushin Shyam's is brilliant. Among the four songs, it is KJ Yesudas' Kandittum Kandittum that will catch the attention for its beautiful melody and visuals.
A special round of applause to the film's art department for completely transforming the climax location. Despite being a person who has visited the old tea factory in Vagamon, while watching the movie, I couldn't make it out that it was the same spot where I posed for pictures.
Though Vishal as Dr Shaktivel Palanisamy and Hansika Motwani as Shreya are there from the opening scene of Villain, they get enough space to perform only in the second half. Shaktivel is on a mission to kill all bad men who escape the law. Vishal looks better than Kaniyan in his Tamil movie Thupparivaalan. Revenge suits him best, but that doesn't mean he has performed remarkably. Felt like the intensity and frustration of the character were not presented powerfully. Meanwhile, Hansika just remains as the good looking girl, who doesn't have much to do.
But it was Raashi Khanna who scores high with her smart performance as stylish cop Harshita Chopra and she never had issues with lip-syncing Malayalam dialogues. She has even sung a Malayalam song in the movie, but you need to wait for it till the end credits. Telugu actor Srikanth as antagonist Felix D Vincent couldn't get into the skin of the character much.
Also check: Wondering where Srikanth's intro scene was shot? Take a look at THIS place
Other actors, including Siddique, Chemban Vinod Jose, Renji Panicker, Aju Varghese have done justice to their roles. Manju Warrier was charming as Neelima, but it wasn't a challenging role for the actress in her. The character could have been done by some other actresses as it is more like an extended cameo.
What went wrong?
Villain has its share of impressive twists and turns. However, something seems to be missing in its totality. It leaves us with a few doubts, and is certainly not a well-knit script by B Unnikrishnan. The script is fraught with an overdose of subplots and expendable scenes.
How could Mathew easily identify the killer just by going through the database of the hospital? There is a scene when Mathew is heard asking Aju's character Churutt Kannappi if the girl he saw was wearing "purple nailpolish" - seriously? Do you really think there are girls who would be obsessed with just one colour?
Also, cheating the audience is not so easily! We could realise that the purdah-clad girl with a tattoo on her hand like that of Shreya is definitely NOT Hansika. Right?
Villain might disappoint Mohanlal's die hard fans, who were waiting for a mass action thriller. It is more of an emotional thriller. While Mohanlal's performance and technical aspects are good, the weak storyline makes it just an average movie and can be watched only to see how well Mohanlal has essayed the role!
IBTimes India rating: 2.5