This third film from Nelson seemed like a litmus test for a director who has been tagged with a particular style. Will he bend his ways for a star or not? I rooted for him to stick to his guns. We finally have an answer, but it’s sort of… confusing? Nelson has very clearly gotten to make the film he wanted to, but that has come at the cost of Vijay’s screen presence, which should have ideally been hoisted higher by exciting content. But neither of these entities seem to have done anything for the other.

The idea of the badass hero is an easy sell, and Vijay does fit into it like a glove. Add apt references to his Pokkiri persona, you have a good start for a recipe that’ll be playing to the gallery. But this idea isn’t fleshed out further to make the audience root for him. I like how Veeraraghavan is etched in the opening stretch, with an intro sequence for the character in place of an intro song for the star. He’s even given trauma, but it never looks like he wants catharsis for the same. His only attempt at it gets parodied by a sleazy therapist. Is he at least looking at redemption? Yes, he apparently is, but we barely hear this from him. That seems to be a recurring problem with Tamil “mass” films. The hero doesn’t state what he “wants”. It’s usually a simple overcoming-conflict-with-“mass” narrative. A hero being passionate/wanting something, can do wonders to even the most basic of narratives. I believe Telugu films get this on point even in their most mediocre of outings, with their biggest stars.

There are many silly things happening in Beast, and most of it is even palatable because the film doesn’t take itself too seriously – very much like Nelson’s previous films. But in there, we had better stakes running through the narrative. Here we have stakes at the international level, but all of it looking like mere plot with no emotional backing to the events. Even the setpieces are all too dull, something that I expected a lot out of, for all the ingenious stuff Nelson pulled off in Doctor. There’s no excitement anywhere in the modus operandi, with tiringly repeated showers of bullets leaving the hero without a single scratch. Vijay’s spunk feels subdued with such uninteresting action blocks. Selvaraghavan’s confident banter ends up being the brightest element of the film in retrospect. We get a post-climax stretch (?) involving fighter planes and missiles, but all of it playing out like a mere afterthought to the mall hostage story. Again, that could’ve been solved if it were established early enough how desperately Veeraraghavan wanted this terrorist.

While this may not be an embarrassing attempt at a star vehicle, it still remains a colourless outing at the theatres. Nelson’s clearly having fun making his kind of films – with even a hint at his own universe of characters (Mahaali and Kili are back) – but his writing here lacked emotional flesh.


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2 years ago

Felt apt. Emotional backing to the stories was missing. Also comedy placed in tense situations doesn’t sits very well. Villains laam velai seiraangalaa illai vedikkai pakkuraangala

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