Udita Jhujhunwala’s Review: Testosterone Heavy ‘Commando’

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Twenty-eight years after John Rambo returned from Vietnam to wreck havoc in urban USA in First Blood, an Indian version of the unstoppable human fighting machine has appeared in the form of Vidyut Jamwal in Commando.

This film too, like most action films, rests on a pair of broad shoulders and a narrow plot.

Commando Karanvir Dogra gets caught by the Chinese, who think he is a spy. Despite his commanding officer’s (Darshan Jariwala doing what Richard Crenna did for Sylvester Stallone) best efforts, the government refuses to rescue him. Dogra, therefore, has to take matters into his own hands.

After an easily managed escape from the Chinese, Dogra finds himself in Punjab colliding into an on-the-run damsel in distress Simrit (Pooja Chopra) needs his help from a villainous suitor AK-74 (Jaideep Ahlawat). AK-74 is the local politician and thug, and by now, Dogra has a particular dislike for the political class, considering it abandoned him. That alone is motive enough for the commando to save the woman from AK-74’s hundreds of henchmen.

As mentioned, the premise is weak and so is most of the acting. The dialogues, and there are too many of those, try to be smart and mostly don’t succeed. The plot moves predictably, with barely any surprises, with most of the action seeming repetitive. The music, an important element in any fast-paced saga, lacks energy.

Chopra is annoying, while trying too hard to be the chirpy-loveable Punjabi girl. Jamwal keeps a straight face, but clearly emoting is not his strong point, so its perhaps just as well that he has positioned himself as an action hero.

Having said that, there are a few redeeming features. Shot well in lovely outdoor locations, it’s a pleasant change from the standard Punjab’s mustard fields. The first fight sequence where Dogra takes on AK-74’s men is superbly choreographed and power-packed. However, after that the moves recur and the action appears one-sided.

Commando is a platform to exhibit Jamwal’s martial arts expertise. He flies through car windows, does countless leaps up in the air, pulls off intricate maneuvers before bringing down goons while displaying his impressive muscles. As a purely action star, he should rate pretty high up.

The best thing about Commando, however, is Ahlawat (who was superb as Shahid Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur). Sinister, amusing, scary, repulsive, quirky all at the same time, he brings much-needed colour to this rather monochromatic actors’ ensemble. You can sense the sheer pleasure he gets pulling off his evil deeds; you laugh with him when he reads out those silly Santa-Banta jokes from his cell phone and revels in scoring high in Angry Birds.

A testosterone-heavy film, watch this one only if you have a taste for flying kicks and a body count.

Rating: **