'Jagame Thandhiram', starring Dhanush in the lead, is streaming on Netflix. Having made a whopping pre-release OTT business, the gangster flick has hit the streaming giant amid high expectations. Is it worth a watch? What are its hits and misses? Let's find out here.
Suruli (Dhanush) is a strongman in Madurai. When he faces threat to his life from an enemy, Suruli is advised by his well-wishers to run away from the town for a month. This is also when he is recruited by a London-based ganglord named Peter (James Cosmo), who hires him to eliminate Sivadoss (Joju George), a Tamil-speaking smuggler in London. When Suruli uses his brain to plot against Sivadoss, he comes to know of some hidden complexities and facts. Attila (Aishwarya Lekshmi) becomes a life-altering force in Suruli's life. What are the truth bombs? What does Suruli do from now? That's the crux of the second half.
Dhanush is the film's USP. The actor draws from the acting style of Superstar Rajinikanth and makes even below-average scenes work. James Cosmo of 'Game Of Thrones' fame is good in the role of a racist hate-monger.
Joju George gets to play a well-written character that comes across as a caricature at first but only temporarily. Aishwarya Lekshmi is good in the role of a widow with a kid and a heavy backstory.
The rest of the performances strictly seem to be in the zone of a typical Tamil movie.
Santhosh Narayanan's many songs that were part of the jukebox don't find a place in the movie. 'Rakita Rakita' is a pure theatre song and it feels underwhelming when watched on the mobile phone. His background music, however, is satisfying. Shreyaas Krishna's photography is able. Most of the film takes part in foreign locations. The last 15 minutes must have been difficult, and the cinematographer rises to the occasion.
The editing is crisp. At about 155 minutes, the film is not too long.
The trailer for 'Jagame Thandhiram' showed glimpses of anti-immigrant sentiment and Brexit politics. The film takes the politics to the next level. In fact, without the political theme of refugees being damned victims of xenophobic politics, this Karthik Subbaraj directorial would have been poor as a gangster drama.
In a pre-release interview, the film's talented writer-director said that gangster dramas offer enough scope for building up suspense and a twist or two. There definitely is a twist in the film, which comes in wake of a gang battle. But aside from this one-trick thing, nothing else works in terms of writing.
Dhanush looks too reckless. James Cosmo doesn't know how to face an existential threat despite him being a well-networked thug.
In many ways, this film is fixated on the idea of selling Dhanush to the audience. While the actor is a likeable persona, he can't make the non-Tamil audience root for his typical Kollywoodian antics.
The sentimentality in the film is limited to loyalty to one's race and being broad-minded in accepting refugees. Beyond this, the film has no emotional core. Its gunfights are not great stuff either.
'Jagame Thandhiram' suffers from a jerky narration. Barring a backstory that changes the game for the protagonist, it has nothing much going for it. The technical aspects are good and the performances are engaging. That's all that can be said about the much-hyped movie.