ission: Impossible meets demonetisation in Deven Bhojani’s tersely titled Commando 2: The Black Money Trail. The Hollywood blockbuster provides the plot: an international criminal with a surprising identity, a crack team assembled to bring this person down, high-tech sleuthing, lots of twists and double-crosses. The demonetisation angle provides the soul. What better comfort to a nation still reeling from the effects of a hastily implemented note ban than the prospect of black money finding its way back to the bank accounts of farmers?
Vidyut Jamwal plays the hero, Karan. He’s taking the Tiger Shroff route, which is essentially the 1980s-Dharmendra route. I’m talking about so-bad-it’s-good B-movies like Hukumat and Elaan-e-Jung, which no one seems to want to make anymore in these Yash Raj/Dharma times. And Commando 2 does have its share of so-bad-it’s-good moments. The interval twist, for instance. Or the scene where Karan meets the super-sexy Maria (Esha Gupta). They clasp hands, lock eyes. She says, “I didn’t get your name.” He replies, “I didn’t give it.” This is the film’s idea of sexual frisson.
And Bhavna Reddy (Adah Sharma) is the film’s idea of someone from Hyderabad. She’s an encounter specialist who speaks pidgin English. The character is too ridiculous to be offensive, but there’s a scene where she calls a female cook a “cookie” and the people in my theatre laughed – I felt terrified about the future of our country. To round up the microcosm of India, we get Zafar (Sumit Gulati), a patriotic Muslim. On the side of the villains, we have a muscled hunk who, when preparing for a showdown with Karan, rips his shirt off. Someone always keeps ripping his shirt off in these movies. Given the amount of time and money they spend at the gym, I suppose it makes sense. After all, if you owned a Jag, you wouldn’t keep it parked in the garage.
The problem with Commando 2 isn’t that it’s a B-movie. The problem is that it isn’t B-movie enough. There’s a nifty stretch where Karan uses Parkour tricks in a crowded marketplace, but the action, otherwise, isn’t good enough. And that’s what was advertised as the film’s USP. Without great action set pieces, it’s like watching a porn film after Pahlaj Nihalani has cut out the good bits.
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