Captain Virat is a man on a mission. Armed with two guns, one his own and one local-made to help aid corrupt officials commit suicide, a cupboard stocked with hostages, a handful of inane English lines, and a heavy-weight of a fiancé (pun intended), is out to clean the Indian system of the vicious “sleeper cells”.
Much like the tagline of the movie, he’s clearly “never off duty”.
So, when he steps off the “holiday train” with his military buddies, grinning away and rushing to meet a woman his dad wants him to marry, you know he’s only pretending to be in “holiday mode”. In fact, he spends every wakeful hour helping his pal in the police force crack local crime.
Soon enough, he’s single-handedly fighting a war, away from the border he’s stationed, to save a city from being blown apart.
It’s only when he skips his heartbeat for a girl there’s a sense that he might just want to “chill out”.
But apart from those brief moments of mush that crop up in random song-and-dances and inane comedies, involving an aged military boss and a chubby lover, the incoherent storyline never allows him to holiday.
South Indian filmmaker A R Murugadoss gives a Bollywood spin on his Tamil blockbuster ‘Thuppakki’, but ends up losing the punch in translation.
He might’ve aided Aamir Khan win box-office glory by flexing his tattoo-smeared muscles in ‘Ghajini’, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to create the same magic for Akshay, or his even earlier hero Salman Khan (remember the flop ‘Jai Ho’?).
While the director structures his story to the often-used Bollywood masala of throwing in love-drama-comedy-action into one story, he fails to link it all coherently.
Although the hero flexes his ribbed muscles impressively, it’s his lines that don’t pack a punch.
“I’m waiting,” is all he musters when challenged to a face-off with the terror mastermind. Or, when he believes “allowing sleeper cells to grow in the Indian army would be cancerous,” when told about plans to extend the terror links to the Indian military. Even his covert operation to nail 12 suicide bombers with his men in “pant-suits” turns unintentionally comical.
In fact, the only significant line in the entire movie is mouthed by an old bearded terrorist towards the fag end, when he says, “I have no idea what’s going on”.
The conflict, which should’ve effectively made a great thriller, is reduced to a poorly executed school play, where robbers and cops run around aimlessly without a clue on what they are fighting for.
Akshay Kumar hogs the spotlight. He’s flaunting his (staple) dance moves, or flipping his newly acquired and strangely styled fringe, or hopping along like a hyper teen, or lecturing all and sundry about leading a life of sacrifice.
At 170-minutes of screen time, we only wish, he took a breather.
Sonakshi plays Virat’s ladylove Saiba without much effort. With handful of expressions borrowed from her earlier performances in ‘Rowdy Rathore’ and ‘Bullet Raja’, she’s sleepwalks through a rather inconsequential role that's desperate for a “first kiss”.
She poses as a boxer for little over 10 minutes in the first-half, with her Laila Ali-styled braids, but abandons it soon enough for the dainty curls and fluttering eyelashes. Apart from attempting to play (almost) every sport in the Olympic list in one single music track, she stays exclusive to Bollywood dance moves in shimmery tops and colourful skirts for rest of the soundtrack.
The light-eyed baddie, played by debutant Freddy Daruwala, is high on looks but low on talent. He growls and glares, but with little impact.
Half way through the film, Akshay asserts he wants to turn the “sleeper cells into coma cells”, but what he manages, instead, is to put us into deep slumber.
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