Critic’s Rating: 7.5/10
The Director, Lokesh Kanagaraj brings together an ensemble-filled world of Kamal Haasan’s 1986 film Vikram and his 2019 film Kaithi’s action-packed world of drug lords and cops in Vikram. It holds the mysteries of a spy action film and provides the thrills to some extent. Still, it doesn’t feel wholly satisfactory. It fails to leave us with the adrenaline rush that a film with such high ambitions promises.
The film starts when Karnan, played by Kamal Haasan, the father of a martyred cop Prapanchan played by Kalidas Jayaram, is murdered. We are then shown a series of such killings, with a group of masked men holding responsibility for it and calling it their war against the system. Police chief Jose played by, Chemban Vinod Jose brings in a black ops team headed by Amar, played by Fahadh Faasil. The latter starts digging into Karnan’s life. The main suspect is Sandhanam played by, Vijay Sethupathi, a fearsome drug lord with a huge family. He is searching for a lost shipment of raw material that could make him a leader of syndicate.
Meanwhile, Amar is puzzled by the many versions of Karnan. Was he a womanizer or an alcoholic father grieving over the loss of his son, or much more? The most important question he had was, is he still alive or dead?
Vikram works best in its first half when we see Amar and his team trying to piece together the murders and track down the culprits. Even though these portions have very little of Kamal Haasan. We keep sensing his presence as the character and the actor. The actor in action mode here also gets a whistle-worthy moment, which is the movie’s interval bang.
But once the easy-to-guess mystery around Karnan is cleared, the narrative becomes rather straight-faced. A small bunch of cops should hold out against an army of gangsters. It’s similar to what we got in Kaithi, but it is less effective here.
To his credit, The director, Lokesh Kanakaraj tries to provide an emotional undercurrent with a sub-plot involving Karnan and Prapanchan’s son. But it wasn’t enough. And the scenes involving Amar and Sandhanam, also turn predictable. Amar role gets more or less written off, while Vijay Sethupathi comes across as trying too hard. Narain, who plays the honest cop from Kaithi, is also given short shrift. Even the much-publicized cameo by Suriya, which acts as a set-up for the next installment in the ‘Lokesh Kanagaraj Universe,’ is a tad underwhelming.
The action scenes, while solidly choreographed, never leave us in a rush. But, in a film filled with action heroes, the biggest mass moment comes in a stunt scene involving a female character, a maid and a spy, played by Vasanthi. Vikram needed more such moments to be truly memorable.