Jailer poster


This is an unexpected borderline dudes-rock movie masquerading as a single superstar vehicle. It is a colourful reunion of veteran star actors, who make cameo appearances to elevate the superstar. This is a juicy idea for starters, and Nelson has a lot of fun with it. Each of the cameos provide the base for their own action setpiece, and this design builds excitement and inspires cheers to those eager to celebrate. It is enough fodder for fans, but it doesn’t do much to win an audience beyond that subset.

Nelson has a pronounced aesthetic, and he gets to realise this all throughout the film. His poker-faced humour and shocking violence (which at times made me squirm since this isn’t an A-rated film) are utilised in full glory. He shines in creating setpieces and moments that inspire both awe and laughter, but it’s the drama in-between those moments is where he falters. The emotional beats are purely perfunctory here – we get one father-son interaction, one lukewarm montage song about their bond, and that’s about it. For a character who is the fulcrum of the story, there’s barely any work gone in to make us care for him. The entire narrative and forthcoming twists hinge around this weak foundation, and that becomes a problem in giving a damn about the drama of the story. Only the “how” seems to matter in the writing of this part-revenge and part-heist film, never the “why”.

The ending is rather cold – and dare I say – bold, for a vibrant star vehicle, but it didn’t make me feel anything, leaving a rather neutral aftertaste. The writing is filled with odd choices where the focus is shifted away from the core. There’s a considerable amount of time spent with the grandson, but it adds up to nothing while all that time could’ve simply been given to the son. The heist in the second half takes a rather long detour, one that feels like an overwritten stretch placed solely to accommodate the promotional “glamour song”. These are all decisions that could have been cleaned up by a writing team or further rounds of feedback on the writing drafts. All our major league directors could do with better writers to back their vision. In spite of the fairly busy script, it’s insane how much of this film rests on Rajinikanth’s screen presence and Anirudh’s score, both of which also seem repetitive when little else is standing out.

Muthuvel Pandian is written in such a way where he’s an open book from scene one. There’s no element of surprise to the character. There’s potential to extract excitement by revealing his character gradually, but Nelson doesn’t seize it. He goes the easy way – Muthuvel’s very first run-in with the underworld is a smooth-sailing, easy win for him. He’s invincible, and that’s about it. One could call it clever that Nelson then takes the route of the team-ups, but there’s not much novelty to the character after a point. But we see Vinayakan’s character being written with good amounts of subversion, if one could call it that. The guy is shamed (in an arguably problematic way), defeated on numerous counts, within the first half itself, but he still doesn’t lose the mojo of being the villain, thanks to the entertaining eccentricity of the actor and the writing in equal measure. I just wish this balance were seen in the rest of the narrative.

I can already say I wouldn’t enjoy rewatching this film as much as I have with Doctor. It doesn’t earn a lot of its mass moments, and at this point in life I just want the films I watch to do that, regardless of the genre context. Nostalgia is gratifying when it comes in the form of shorts and reels, but with a 100 crores going into the same exercise, there’s bound to be a lack in novelty. It would be hard to sustain the same interest in the longer run, as that of the fanfare delivered by the first weekend theatre watch.


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