Cast: John Abraham, Nishikant Kamat, Diya Chalwad, Nathalia Kaur, Sharad Kelkar, Teddy Maurya, Shruti Haasan
Director: Nishikant Kamat
Goa is the new north India for the Hindi film industry. Filmmakers know the formula: Sinister-looking foreigners, local gangsters wearing floral shirts, drug trafficking and bars with Russian boards. All they need to throw in is one or two peppy dance numbers and slow motion action sequences. And yes, that old Goa church is mandatory. Mix the ingredients according to your choice and you’re ready with another morally upright, vengeful hero ready to take on the world. The director’s job gets even more defined if he is a fan of Korean films or secretly loves Jason Bourne.
Kabir Ahlawat (John Abraham) likes body-hugging suits and runs a Pawn show in Goa. Anna (a super sultry Nathalia Kaur) and her daughter Nayomi (Diya Chalwad) are his neighbours, but drugs are ruining their lives. Brothers Kevin (Nishikant Kamat) and Luke Ferreira (Teddy Maurya) are the force behind this racket, and they won’t let go of their empire at any cost. As expected, the little child gets trapped in the middle of this chaos and all hell breaks loose.
Is it just me or you also are reminded of Leon The Professional (1994)? You’re still getting settled in your seat while watching lovey-dovey wife Rukshida (Shruti Haasan) pouting with Kabir in Seychelles, and it begins abruptly. The moment Kabir lands on a car’s bonnet like a true Batman fan, you know what you are up to.
Here’s a child who loves nail art, a club dancer mother and a man with no apparent history. Basically, a fast and furious guy has stood up to the dreaded traffickers for reasons extremely personal, but can a predictable, video game-inspired actioner hold your attention for 130-minutes? Looks like a daunting task after the first 30 minutes.
There are moments when you see director Kamat bringing out a different side of the gangsters. In one of the most captivating scenes of Rocky Handsome, we see local don Maanto sadistically slapping Kevin, and the latter not flinching a bit. He spits blood only after everybody leaves the scene and the ordeal is over. The bad guy’s grit is visible. But then, it all goes in vein when too much focus gets attached to choreographing a Kill Bil-style action sequence with one person against the whole army. And, you know how weird it looks when in the middle of a showdown everybody throws their weapon away and resorts to a fistfight. They don’t forget to tear apart their own shirts. In short, masala takes over the centre-stage.
Some slow motion long shots are worth watching, especially those taken in the rain. But how can these supplement for the lack of a coherent theme?
Abraham’s Kabir is a silent and strong guy who cannot paddle a rehashed film forward just on his own. Madras Café and Force gave him the chance to explore a similar territory but those roles were way more nuanced. Here, too many players make his stroll bumpy. Luke, Maantu and other over-the-top gangsters simply stop you from taking the proceedings seriously. Goa isn’t Mexico.
A great affection for drama and theatrics dilutes the most interesting parts of the film: The inside view of the drugs business in Goa. Just when you start noticing the detailed research, it again goes back to illogical bloodshed and miming, over hyped assassins.
Shanker Raman’s breathtaking cinematography or Sharad Kelkar’s supporting hands are not expected to rescue an average film. There is a limit to putting the guns and goons to task, no? And just how much of Abraham’s murderous rage can you tolerate? But who is to blame for the weak storyline? Abraham himself is the producer of the film.
Rocky Handsome may seem a jumbled up version of John Abraham to some, and this is the third time he is playing Kabir. Too much of self-introspection and alter ego, eh?
John Abraham … err … Rocky Handsome is a very average film with some finely executed action sequences on display. But, make no mistake: Don’t expect anything more from this film.