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DareDevilKid

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Great Performances All Round in an Entertaining if Slightly Cluttered Movie, 13 February 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 3.3/5 stars

Adam McKay admirably directs an all-star cast comprising Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt in this surprisingly light-hearted and entertaining take on America's housing bubble collapse of the mid- and late-2000s, which eventually led to a global financial crisis. However, if you're not well-acquainted with the world of finance and several of its nitty-gritty details, the clumpy narrative and salvo of banking gobbledygook in "The Big Short" might cause your attention to drift at at some points in the movie.

Though the film comes across as a tad bloated at 130 minutes, it still impresses quite a bit with all that it packs within its frames. It's evident McKay and his co-writer Charles Randolph try their best to make the banking jargon as easy as possible for the audience to comprehend, even going so far as using the game Jenga and on-screen graphics to describe the fragility and ultimate decimation of the economy. At key intervals, the filmmakers even employ the assistance of guest stars from Margot Robbie to Selena Gomez to 5-star chef Anthony Bourdain in their endeavor to help the common man wrap his/her head around all the complex financial terminology. Unfortunately, this also makes "The Big Short" feel impersonal, and you feel there's too much of emphasis on number- crunching, statistics, office meetings, boardroom talks, and predictions. You end up wishing that some of this care and effort was directed toward highlighting the well-known human suffering resulting from this economic meltdown.

Still, McKay does more than a decent job at offering copious food for thought on how not to live and how intricate, and, more importantly, fickle the financial system really is. Best-known for collaborating with Will Ferrell in comedies like the "Anchorman" films, "Talladega Nights", and "Step Brothers", McKay never forgoes an opportunity to add some much-needed wit and satirical humor to proceedings, which helps in easing out the heavy narrative to an extent.

Undoubtedly, it's the actors' sublime performances that have helped "The Big Short" soar to such heights this awards-season. And, in spite of all the praise, awards, and a third Oscar nomination that's come Bale's way - and he indeed does an exemplary job as he's so often done all through his career - it's Steve Carell who shines brightest out of the extremely talented ensemble cast.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
As Gripping and Smart as Any Spy Thriller Made, 12 February 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

With "Bridge of Spies", Steven Spielberg infuses new life in Hollywood's all-but-forgotten Cold War espionage thrillers from the 70s and 80s. He goes about creating an arresting, sometimes haunting milieu in the midst of a mission of wits and high-intensity at the height of the Cold War, where American attorney James B. Donovan is recruited by the CIA to negotiate the release of a US spy-plane pilot - shot down and captured in Soviet territory - in exchange of a KGB spy, Rudolf Abel, who was arrested for espionage in the US.

Spielberg enters full-blown Stanley Kramer mode, and triumphantly delivers (like he has on numerous times in his distinguished career) a socially conscious tale of back-and-forth diplomacy and behind- closed-doors politics at home, at the office, and on the global stage. At the same time, he doesn't let up the tension for a moment in this richly-detailed narrative where the interactions between smart and unpredictable characters is the main focus of the Director and his writers (the maverick Coen Brothers; avant-garde filmmakers in their own right). And, eventually, it's these interactions that are the core foundation of "Bridge of Spies", with its real strength lying in the bond developed between its two main characters - unwitting negotiator Donovan (Tom Hanks in fine form) and incarcerated Soviet spy Abel (Mark Rylance deservedly an Oscar nominee). The warm portrait of a highly unlikely friendship is perhaps the movie's greatest achievement, even more than its sublime Direction, crisp writing, lasting cinematography, and exemplary performances.

Steven Spielberg and the Coen Brothers take on the Cold War and spy world with a visually stunning, tension-filled, and surprisingly feel-good thriller that slithers along with gripping intensity and tantalizing uncertainty.

Sweet yet Appetizing Peanuts, 4 February 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and friends finally arrive on the big screen in a movie that sticks close to the simple, warm, humorous tone of the comic strip that launched in 1950 and the vintage TV specials that have held well from the 60s to the new millennium. "The Peanuts Movie" offers a colorful, charming, witty gateway into the world of its classic characters and a sweetly nostalgic treat for the adults who grew up with them.

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Woodstock, and the rest of the beloved Peanuts gang make their big-screen debut, like they've never been seen before, in state-of-the-art 3D animation. Charlie Brown, the world's most beloved underdog, embarks upon an epic and heroic quest, while his best pal, the lovable beagle Snoopy, takes to the skies – in his vivid imagination – to pursue his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron. In traditional Charles M. Schulz (the creator of the classic comic strip) style, "The Peanuts Movie" proves yet again that every underdog has his day.

Anyone who possesses even a passing familiarity with Charlie Brown and the gang from Peanuts should find some appreciable measure of delight with this super-faithful feature-film adaptation – a perfectly fine, perfectly innocent big-screen translation. What's more, it's both modern and traditional, pleasing on all fronts, which must have certainly been hard to achieve, and more importantly, convince the studio honchos, in today's cynical times. What other films for children teach in an hour – about life, the universe, and everything in between – Schulz could teach in a line, and this film reflects that. It's undeniably about decency, goodness, and love. And, of course, Snoopy too. "The Peanuts Movie" is just a good, emotional, fun ride, and a wonderful blast-from-the- past while also serving as a neat discovery for kids today.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Studi Ghilbi Falters this Time, 2 February 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 2.8/5 stars

"When Marnie Was There" never fulfills on its grand promise of something profound. Based on the book by Joan G. Robinson, it's another fantastical tale from Japanese animation juggernaut Studio Ghibli. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi sweeps the frames with the studio's quintessential ethereal brushstrokes, delivering an aesthetically superb piece. But there may not be enough meat to keep adults engaged, while the subtler themes of sexuality and gender will likely soar over little ones' heads.

After suffering an asthma attack at school, out-of-place Anna is dispatched to a seaside town in Hokkaido. There she finds herself fascinated by a dilapidated mansion, perched on the edge of a marshland. She strikes up a fervent friendship with the house's enigmatic occupant Marnie, and the pair soon becomes inseparable, enabling the previously withdrawn Anna to open up. But in typical Ghibli fashion, things are never what they seem, and Anna finds herself charged with unraveling a family history mystery.

The plot centers on female friendship, exploring "tomboy" and "girly-girl" archetypes. This is particularly interesting coming out of Japan, where femininity and innocence are inextricably linked and highly revered. Anna is a world away from the giggling schoolgirl stereotype, and while vague questions of her sexuality and mental health are hazily hinted at, they're never really raised, let alone explored. Understandable for a PG film, but in the end, it left me with more questions than answers. Anna and Marnie frequently abscond together in clandestine meetings, suggesting a rapport that is far more intimate. It reaches an apex when a jealous Anna questions Marnie about dancing with a boy. You're certain that something more will come of this, but eventually nothing does. Later there is a scary interlude that resembles a Gothic tale involving an old abandoned silo that terrifies Marnie. More suggestions of something deeper than what is actually presented. The denouement ultimately ignores all of these plot threads and settles into a resolution that doesn't effectively address the issues with which Anna is struggling. Psychologically, she was really messed up to begin with, and the reveal is totally disconnected from what this girl had been feeling. It seems all too rushed and contrived after a point.

Maybe I'm being a bit demanding, but "When Marnie Was There" just feels more muddled than most Studio Ghilbi offerings - many of them classics in their own right. You sense that it boils down to a scripting issue, simply because the film doesn't earn some of its poignant scenes - for instance, Anna and Marnie declare their love for each other after one quick meeting, which doesn't evoke sincerity as the writers don't make us believe that the characters ought to be feel that way. Nevertheless, the movie is too visually hypnotic to ignore. Both the background score and sound effects enhance the rich milieu, which is spellbinding to begin with.

With Ghibli announcing indefinite hiatus last year, "When Marnie Was There" marks the last film we'll see from the studio for some time. In that light, it's dimly disappointing and doesn't hold a candle to most of their erstwhile endeavors. But it's still worth a look for ardent anime fans and Ghibli devotees who'll be waiting a while for their next fix. It's visually alluring with some nice touches, but one does feel that it could, or rather should, have been much deeper in its narrative. I liked it. I just didn't love it.

Inside Out (2015/I)
2 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Good Concept, Underwhelming Execution, 1 February 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 2.3/5 stars

I really don't what all the fuss and universal praise for "Inside Out" is about. It's a juvenile attempt at trying to portray elements as complex as human emotions and our state of mind in different situations.

Sure, there were some good scenes and likable characters, and some plot elements do hit the mark, but, overall, Directors Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen, and their cowriters Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley tried tempering the whole gamut of human emotions, and end up ignoring or stifling the deeper aspects of our psyche and personalities. It would have been fine if they had stopped at portraying the lead protagonist, who was a little girl, in that light. But, when they also showed her parents to be reactive in the same manner, you do sense something fundamentally wrong with a film attempting to unravel our emotional psyche without having the gall to touch upon all our emotions. Even when it came to our protagonist, it would've made better sense to have showed more complex emotions lying dormant inside a young girl. For instance, what happened to love, hatred, affection, despair, passion, regret, relief, envy, contempt, courage, contentment and similar other feelings. Everything cannot be encapsulated and simplified under the five basic emotions displayed in the film: joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and anger.

Perhaps, the filmmakers didn't want to delve so deep, this being a kid's film and all. But, they always targeted the film at both adults and children right from the promotional campaigns, and the film itself emanates that vibe of wanting to cut across age demographics. And, therein lies the inherent problem with "Inside Out" - in trying to please all sections of the audience, it ends up being to heavy and cluttered for kids, and too immature and insouciant for adults. Even if I choose to ignore these obvious shortcomings, "Inside Out" is still a weakly made film. The narrative gets unbelievably messy in the second half and most of the plot elements are all over the place. More surprising is how many of the attempts at humor - usually Pixar's forte - seem labored and flat. To put it bluntly, "Inside Out" takes some good ideas and executes them with middling results and sans any conviction.

Deeply Disturbing, Utterly Harrowing, Profoundly Numbing, 31 January 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

A terrifying study in mass moral rationalization, "The Look of Silence" finds documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer returning to the subject matter of his Oscar-nominated "The Act of Killing". That film was about the slaughter of some one million communists in Indonesia in the mid 60s. Oppenheimer met with some of the many killers - none of whom were ever punished and who mostly consider themselves heroes - and had them re-enact the murders they committed. It was grisly and at times surreal. Astonishingly, Oppenheimer has followed his 2013 documentary with an even more powerful film that features much more soul- pricking confrontation.

There's nothing surreal about "The Look of Silence"; it's painfully real. In it, Oppenheimer follows a possibly foolish albeit immensely brave and deeply compassionate man named Adi Rukun as he searches out the many people responsible for the particularly gruesome slaughter of his brother, Ramli, who was killed before Adi was even born. The murderers - known as leaders of death squads assigned to different villages - who were sanctioned by the then military upheaval, have lived right alongside the families of the people they killed for more than fifty years now. Many have become rich and powerful. The slaughter is taught as a positive thing in elementary school. One killer even wrote a book - with illustrations - about his exploits.

Adi, an optician by profession, uses eye tests as a ruse to get the killers talking. He quickly finds that none of them express regret. It's a frightening illustration of how cavalier the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing can be about their heinous acts. Meanwhile, Oppenheimer seeks out the two men who actually killed Ramli, and they happily take him to the riverside site of the murder and reenact it, after which they smilingly pose for a snapshot. Oppenheimer also spends a great deal of time with Adi's parents - his blind, senile, 103- year-old father and still-grieving, bitter mother. Their rustic village world and the beautiful tropic setting serve as an odd contrast to the countless tales of violence.

It isn't clear exactly what Adi is hoping to accomplish - he's unearthing the truth, sure, but no one seems to care much. It's as if an entire country has just agreed to forget, or rewrite, its own awful history, even as this compelling documentary yanks our attention to the fact that the architects of a massive tragedy remain free and unrepentant, serving a chilling warning that it could all happen again. This leaves Adi acquiescingly and stoically listening to horror stories from the perpetrators' mouths, even as you sense the seething outrage behind his eyes. Replete with the potential to induce nausea, "The Look of Silence" is so disturbing because so few people in it seem disturbed.

Anomalisa (2015)
25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
Abstract Anomaly that Doesn't Quite Cut it, 31 January 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

'm a bit mystified by the accolades of "masterpiece" that are being heaped upon "Anomalisa", a stop-motion animation drama co-directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. It's a unique film, no doubt, and one that takes a lot of risks and has a number of scenes that work quite beautifully. It has the mordant, awkward bits of humor and wry observation we have come to expect from Kaufman, but not the insight; it's all surface, which is inadvertently personified by the artifice of the stop-motion animation. The film is supposed to tell us something about human relationships and the conflict between our ideals and our reality, but it's all muddled, which is what makes its near universal praise by critics so bewildering. Kaufman has certainly earned his share of deserved praise for his inimitable, boundary-pushing screenplays for Spike Jonze's "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation", and Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". But, he's also hit a few critical bumps along the way, including an earlier collaboration with Gondry, "Human Nature", and his directorial debut, the unmitigated mess "Synecdoche, New York". "Anomalisa", while not quite like the latter, isn't also anywhere near to the quality of the former.

The majority of the film takes place in a nondescript upscale hotel in Cincinnati, where Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), a published customer service guru on the lecture circuit, has just arrived. Though a conventionally handsome man in his early 50s who is clearly successful professionally and financially, Michael joins the ranks of miserable Kaufman protagonists whose lives are constantly running aground on their own ennui. Potential redemption arrives in the form of Lisa Hesselman (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a conference attendee he meets at the hotel and to whom he is instantly drawn. Severely lacking in self-esteem and poignantly awkward, Lisa is not the conventional object of male desire, but that is precisely what makes her so fascinating (and Michael's attention so surprising to her).

The film is irrefutably a technical marvel, spectacularly illustrating how stop-motion animation can be just as physically and emotionally convincing as any other medium of human expression or technical wizardry. The puppets, which were individually designed and printed using 3D printers, are amazingly lifelike - almost, but not quite, to the point of being uncanny. They stay just this side of the uncanny valley, never venturing toward that precipitous drop- off where animation that is too lifelike becomes weird.

The problems with "Anomalisa" stem from the two main characters, starting with Michael, who is such a miserable, self-absorbed mope that it's virtually impossible to sympathize with him. Michael's physical mundanity belies the intensity of his narcissism, which keeps him from connecting with anyone and ensures that he remains miserable and alone, even when surrounded by others. Early on in the film, we become aware that all the other characters — from a chatty cab driver, to the hotel bellhop, to Michael's wife and son and ex-girlfriend - all have the exact same voice (Tom Noonan's voice, to be exact). It's a clever, albeit potentially confusing, means of conveying the sameness with which Michael views everyone around him, which is heightened by the fact that all the faces on the puppets playing the other characters are oddly similar, as well. The key is the name of the name of hotel where Michael stays: the Hotel Fregoli, a reference to the real- life, but extremely rare Fregoli delusion, a psychological disorder in which a person comes to believe that different people around him are actually the same person in disguise. We aren't meant to think that Michael actually suffers from this disorder (although he says several times that he feels like something is wrong with him psychologically); rather, it plays as a kind of metaphor for Michael's interpersonal isolation, which renders everyone around him a single, undifferentiated mass to whom he cannot connect.

Except Lisa. When he hears Lisa's voice, he recognizes her as fundamentally distinct from all the others and immediately seeks her out. Jennifer Jason Leigh does a fantastic job voicing Lisa, and she makes her the most interesting character on-screen (which she is clearly meant to be - a lovable oddball). But, the film stalls emotionally because there is never any depth or meaning to Michael's intense attraction to her. The film is resolutely concrete in depicting his depressive moroseness, but then it gets all abstract when it comes to his propensity for love, which throws everything off-balance. Thus, even the film's most touching sequence - a rather graphic sex scene that plays fair with the inherent awkwardness of two people who barely know each other suddenly getting intimate - doesn't ultimately work because it has nothing emotional to connect to except an idea. Thus, it works in isolation, but not in concert with the rest of the film.

The fundamental problem with "Anomalisa" is that it's little more than the story of an unsympathetic narcissist assigning his piece of mind to a good-hearted oddball. As a romance, it doesn't work because we just want Lisa to get away from Michael lest he drag her into his sad- sack pit of despair. As an interpersonal cautionary tale it doesn't work because the film's attitude toward Michael is so vague. Had it been more clear about what we were supposed to make of his relationship with Lisa - is it a genuine spark of compatible souls meeting at the wrong time or is Michael just a myopic, misguided jerk with no idea of what he wants - then "Anomalisa" might have registered as something more, even if it were just an indictment of its protagonist. Alas, it ends up as a stew of potentially interesting ideas brought to life with amazing artistry that can't quite hide its hollow core.

Amy (2015/III)
Remembering Amy, 30 January 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

A befitting and appropriately sad recount of one of Britain's foremost modern music icons, "Amy" is a candid look at the convoluted relationship between art and artist and subsequently fame and celebrity, while shinning copious light on the lethal spiral of addiction. Winehouse's story is a tragic one, and a familiar one, yet this documentary sets her apart from other, similar entertainers who died young, but not far enough. It succeeds in capturing the fans' adulation with her music and also her downfall; while also managing to relay a profound message about the nature of modern fame.

Despite just two albums to her name, Amy Winehouse remains one of the biggest music icons in British history. With a voice often described as an amalgamation of Billy Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Vaughan, Winehouse was a jazz star with soul; a once-in-a- generation musical talent whose appeal crossed cultural and demographic boundaries. But while her music made her a star, her chaotic personal life stole headlines.

Director Asif Kapadia weaves together revelatory footage and interviews, assembling from them a melancholic portrait coupled with an intense character study of a major talent with plenty of demons, which only traumatized her further as her star power and fame grew, leading to her eventual ruination. "Amy" is a celebration of all that Winehouse accomplished as well as a cautionary tale about the grave price to be paid for not getting an addict the help they need. Kapadia's documentary aptly highlights how badly the singer was let down by the male figures closest to her. Yet, beneath all that, the film's most obvious and honest bet lies in showcasing the prodigious talent of Amy Winehouse, paying rich tribute to a great performer with one of the best jazz voices of all time.

Airlift (2016)
Spirits Lifted in a High-Quality Entertainer, 27 January 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

"Airlift" is Akshay Kumar's best movie since "Khakee" (yes, it's even better than "Baby") and his best performance bar none. Period! Gut-wrenching scenes, high-intensity shots, crackerjack dialogues, realistic tension, and patriotic without ever skirting jingoistic shores – the movie has all this, and then some. Based on the world's largest civilian evacuation, director Raja Krishna Menon takes on the challenge of turning a story known to all into a compelling watch and pens a nail-biting screenplay along with cowriters Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair, and Rahul Nangia, which will keep you fearful, hopeful and yet, unsure and uncomfortable.

Set in 1990, the film introduces us to a Kuwait-based business tycoon Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), an expat who has embraced his migrant country's ways and pointedly disassociates himself with anything Indian. When Iraqi forces commanded by Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait, the entire country is torn by war. As battle-tanks bomb the city, the progressive escalation of war finds millions displaced. A significant number of them happen to be migrant Indians. Katyal being one of the more privileged ones, instinctively plans his own exit along with wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and daughter Siya (Adiba Hussain). A sudden change of heart has Katyal taking charge of the safety of his distraught employees and anyone who reaches out to him. With the country's airports sealed by the invaders, options of exiting or entering the country are eliminated. The various escape plans that Katyal devises, makes up the rest of the film. There's hardly any suspense about how this film folds up, but the events that lead up to the inevitable denouement pack in enough punches to keep you at the edge of your seat.

Films like "Khakee", "Aankhen", "Baby", and "Special 26" offered ample proof of how far Akshay Kumar has come from his "Aflatoon" days, but here he knocks it out of the park with a firm, sharp, and restrained yet emotional performance. Prudently, the filmmakers provide Nimrat Kaur with quite a meaty role to essay, and she supports Akshay exceptionally well – those acquainted with her acting prowess are well-versed with ability of essaying a range of emotions, and she executed the entire gamut here with effortless ease and conviction. All the other supporting players – particularly Inaamulhaq as a scheming, callous Iraqi Major, Prakash Belawadi as a perennially bickering refugee, and Kumud Mishra as the External Affairs bureaucrat who makes the operation possible – too, pull their weight in well-written roles.

Cinematographer Priya Seth deserves a special mention for strategically framing scenes to amplify the tension. Be it the shot taken through a car's smashed windshield or the aerial ones of tanks sliding down the desert, she manages to wordlessly convey terror and compel you to imagine the devastation.

I'll unequivocally declare that personally, I haven't enjoyed nor taken away so much from a Bollywood movie since "Detective Byomkesh Bakshi" released some ten months ago. You are filled with immense pride as the narrative arc of these everyday characters with indomitable spirits unfold, and a sea of emotions well up within you without ever spilling into melodramatic territory. A few brave souls saved the lives of 170,000 Indians at great personal risk, and it's time more Indian directors started telling stories like these that highlight heroic deeds of our countrymen amid both global and national scenarios. "Airlift" is just a brilliant movie overall, and no amount of accolades would suffice in bestowing praise on it. What a time to release it as well, coinciding with India's Republic Day. If you are in the mood to be entertained, watch "Airlift". If you are in the mood to be educated, watch "Airlift". If you are in a patriotic mood, watch "Airlift". You know what? Just watch "Airlift".

Wazir (2016/I)
Begins with a Bang, Builds Up Well, Fizzles Out Toward the End, 27 January 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 3/5 stars

The setup of "Wazir" is not to be missed. A montage of happy moments introduces anti-terrorism officer Daanish (Farhan Akhtar), loving husband of Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari) and doting father of little Noorie. While running errands with his family in Delhi, Daanish spots a high-profile terrorist who was thought to be out of the country. His pursuit of the terrorist leads to devastating consequences.

Suspended from the force and guilt-stricken, Daanish befriends Noorie's chess teacher, Panditji (Amitabh Bachchan). From his motorized wheelchair, Panditji teaches chess to children, all of whom outclass Daanish. Panditji informs his new student that the point of studying chess isn't necessarily to win but to learn how to learn. Panditji also has an ulterior motive in befriending Daanish. One year earlier, Panditji's adult daughter, Nina, died under mysterious circumstances in the home of the nation's Welfare Minister, Izaad Qureshi (Manav Kaul). Qureshi says that Nina accidentally fell down a flight of stairs, but Panditji claims that he could tell from the look in Qureshi's eyes that Nina was murdered.

A look in the eye is not much to go on. While the movie presents reasons to be suspicious of Qureshi, Panditji and Daanish don't have access to the same evidence that the audience does. All that the characters have to go on is Panditji's gut feeling.

It's hard to believe that Daanish would risk his life and career on the hunch of a man he only recently met, irrespective of how distraught he may be at the time. Even harder to accept is the participation of Daanish's ranking officer (played in a cameo by John Abraham) in a crazy scheme that should result in his and Daanish's court-martial at best, their deaths at worst. The only reason that Daanish can take such risks based on so little information is that the story refuses to impose consequences on him. After brilliantly setting up Daanish as a man struggling with the consequences of a rash action, by the film's denouement, he's free to do whatever he wants in the name of what he considers justice. Never mind that he and John Abraham could maim and possibly kill innocent people in the process.

In the course of the unsatisfying climax, the truth about Nina's death is revealed in a way that feels too convenient. It doesn't feel earned. Additionally, Panditji's ploy to motivate Danish into securing justice for his deceased daughter seems way too contrived and downright inconceivable, regardless how much one's willing to suspend disbelief.

That said, the performances in the film are generally good, particularly by Kaul and especially by Bachchan, who looks physically broken and world-weary. Akhtar is decent but his emotional range comes up excessively short before Bachchan as does Hydari's. Abraham suffices in his cameo, as does Anjum Sharma, who plays Daanish's reliable friend and coworker, Sartaj. Another selling point is "Wazir's" efficient runtime of just over one hundred minutes. The movie is exactly as long as it needs to be to sustain its intermittent tension.

While far from perfect as a whole, "Wazir's" thrilling opening action sequence, Bachchan's expectedly superlative act, and some edgy scenes make it worth meriting a trip to the theater.


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