Spoiler Alert: Although the trailers and teasers have shown most of the movie, if you want to walk into the theatre completely blind, read this review after watching ‘2.0’.
Indian movies in general have a problem with sequels. They often lack continuity or suffer from the go-big-or-go-home syndrome, thereby leading to a product that looks nothing more than a cash grab. And given how S. Shankar had already gone big with ‘Enthiran’, ‘2.0’ was showing all the telltale signs of a movie doubling down on what was good about its predecessor and botching it up. However, after walking out of the theater, I couldn’t help but feel that I had watched one of the best sequels in Indian cinema.
S. Shankar hits the ground running with ‘2.0’ and uses the first half to establish how intimidating Akshay Kumar’s Pakshi Rajan is. And while doing so, he shows off some of the best visual effects we’ve seen in Indian cinema, along with some insanely creative kills.
Just like the trailers have shown, ‘2.0’ opens with a silhouetted Akshay Kumar killing himself on a mobile tower, while dozens of birds circle around his dead body. Soon after that, mobiles mysteriously start flying off of everybody’s hands and into the sky. And in comes Rajnikanth’s Dr. Vaseegaran, who has become a sort of Tony Stark figure, to bring the situation under control with his gadgets and nifty graphics.
While ‘Enthiran’ posed as a rom-com, oscillating between Vaseegaran, Chitti and Sana (who’s just a voice on a phone here), ‘2.0’ turns into a post-modern horror show as it brings tidal waves of cellphones on the minor villains of the movie. And, no, it’s not done in an U/A way, with the camera cutting away from the gore. You get to watch Akshay’s Fifth Force engulf his enemies and split them open like a fresh watermelon.
As Shankar fleshes out Pakshi’s relentlessly brutal nature, Chitti’s emphatic return to the big screen feels necessary. And through their tussle, ‘2.0’ poses some extremely relevant questions for the audience to ponder over.
After going through the initial images of Pakshi Rajan and the memes spawned by the trailers, I bet you must’ve wondered why Akshay Kumar chose this movie. Well, the answer to that is in the extended flashback, where the script and Akshay meet to create a villain you can root for. While Shankar pokes at the politics and business angle of the telecom industry, Akshay uses his acting chops to sell scene after scene about how destructive mankind is.
Both Rajnikanth and Amy Jackson serve their part well, as they let Nirav Shah’s cinematography and production designer Muthuraj do most of the heavy lifting. While many other side-characters come and go, it’s only Adil Hussain’s performance as the spineless Minister Vijay Kumar that creates a lasting impression. That said, as the movie enters its last act, Shankar’s script starts to fall apart like one of Chitti’s intricate mega-structures.
Despite being a two-and-a-half-hour long movie, Shankar and editor Anthony manages to keep ‘2.0’ evenly paced. But, it gets too self-indulgent after setting up a high-stakes third act.
Although Shankar introduces a minor villain (Dhinendra Bohra) in the first act of the movie, he seemingly forgets about him, only to bring him back to set the final act into motion. And despite pulling off a great twist involving Vaseegaran and Pakshi, Shankar goes for the easier way out by pitting a giant Akshay Kumar versus an equally gigantic Rajnikanth, something we’ve only seen a 100 times in Hollywood movies.
The reason why I’m calling it the “easier way out” is because the third act puts all the pressure on the VFX team and throws all the storytelling out of the window. It does double down on the dynamic camerawork shown throughout the movie, but kills all the subtlety that the story has been building. And that’s when you begin to question that why the hell does Akshay Kumar look like an eagle?
So, in conclusion, ‘2.0’ is a fun movie where Shankar follows the MCU’s trend of creating a great villain to bolster a message that’ll resonate among the masses. And if you’re able to ignore the occasional wonky CGI and over-the-top humour, it might end up being on your “best movies of the year” list.
Cover Image Source: Lyca Productions