The film is directed by Vikram K Kumar.
After a disappointing Massu and a sweet but underrated Pasanga 2, Suriya returns this year with his first huge release, 24. Directed by Vikram K Kumar, who made the engaging Manam, this sci fi thriller is about time travel. Scary premise to make, of course, but kudos to the makers for trying something different. And making sure the film stick to the theme, there by bowling us over in the process. Here's my review of the film.
What's it about
Sethuraman (Suriya) is a brilliant scientist who creates a watch that could manipulate time. He calls it Project 24. However, his twin brother Athreya (Suriya, again), a dreaded don, wants the watch for himself, and therefore attacks his brother, killing his wife in the process. Sethuraman escapes with his infant baby, with the villain close on his heels. Knowing that he has no escape, Sethu leaves his baby and his watch in a protective cover with a lady he meets on a train. Athreya catches up with his brother and kills him, but gets incapacitated in the process and goes into a coma for 26 years. Meanwhile that infant boy grows up to be a strapping young watch mechanic Mani (of course, Suriya), who, one fine day and a series of coincidences later, open that box containing the watch. Having his father's intellect in his genes, Mani soon understands the magic of the watch. He begins to manipulate time to his advantage, especially in hatching a romantic plot with pretty girl, Sathya (Samantha). However, Athreya wakes up from his coma and comes looking for the watch that could help him regain his lost youth. Thus begins a brilliant game of chess between the similar looking protagonist and antagonist with time travel as their chessboard!
We have seldom made great sci fi flicks, so don't blame me for having very low expectations from this. I went to this movie expecting nothing other than a masala entertainer, with time travel as just a tool to advance the plot. But after the movie was over and I came out of the screening, my brain cells were whizzing with excitement! This is easily one of the best thrillers made in Kollywood, and perhaps even in India as well. It is also the BEST time travel flick made in our country. A big salute to Vikram K Kumar for his taut direction and his defiance in not making his hero a superhero! The screenplay is tight at most times, and tends to surprise you at crucial junctures, especially the interval and the climatic portions. The film splendidly handles how the hero and the villain manipulate each other, baffling you at times. Yes, it has shades of British flick, About Time, and even Mr India, but you can easily overlook that. Though a sci flick primarily, the film doesn't have much scientific mumbo jumbo to confuse an ordinary viewer. It also allows enough moments of romance, comedy and family drama, without letting them overshadow the main narrative, at least 90% of the time. The technical values of the film is top notch, with special mention to the cinematography and the VFX team.
Coming to the performances, it is a Suriya show all the way! The actor is back in form after a disappointing Massu, and he brilliantly handles all the three distinct roles without any hiccups. It is a treat to watch him perform effortlessly to any scene, be it as a hero or villain, be it comedy or drama. Samantha may just be the quintessential arm candy, but she enacts her portions with aplomb. Saranya Ponvannan is fantastic as Suriya's adopted mother, especially in the scene where she reveals what all she had to sacrifice to raise him up. Nithya Menen's role is mostly a cameo, though she performs adequately.
What lands the film short of a five star rating , is the loss of pace in the second half, especially just after the interval. The family reunion track and Suriya's romantic scenes with Samantha later provide breathing space to the fast narrative, but a few minutes could have been trimmed. Especially the second romantic song. Thankfully the film gains speed after that, and doesn't get derailed. Speaking of songs, AR Rahman is surprisingly average here, but his BG score is slightly better. The film also relies on a set of coincidences, but this could be intentional on the part of the makers to show the workings of Fate.
What to do
After a long time, I was able to enjoy a mainstream Tamil film, especially one starring an A-list actor. 24 has all the ingredients to impress both Suriya fans and non-fans alike. In fact, even a non Tamilian can enjoy the film. This is the kind of flick you would want to go back in time and watch all over again. Or you could go for the next screening!
Bollywood, you just got a terrific film to remake!
4 out of 5
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