Beast Movie Review: This action-comedy plays out like a feckless quasi-superstar vehicle
Nothing embodies the film's lack of creative energies more than Vijay parroting Mahesh Babu's punchline from 'Pokiri'.
Title: Beast (Telugu)
Cast: Vijay, Pooja Hegde and others
Director: Nelson Dilipkumar
Run-Time: 156 minutes
A good 40 minutes or so into 'Beast', it is not difficult to see where the movie is headed. It's headed into the Nelson zone. Veera Raghavan (Vijay) looks somewhat detached and impassive. The characters around him are hostages, much like Veera himself, yet they don't show terror on their faces. Some of them like Yogi Babu and even Pooja Hegde, wear their character quirks on their sleeves. But then, do you watch superstar movies expecting things to go this way? Not at all. You walk into a Thalapathy Vijay movie expecting the hero's dominance. The way Vijay is edged out of the screen at times, you can safely bet that director Nelson wrote the script with a second-rung hero in mind.
Actually, we got to say more. 'Beast' is a quasi-superstar vehicle. Some superstar movies are like this: they make us say that only that particular actor can do it. An example would be the AR Murugadoss-directed 'Sarkar'. Some other superstar movies are like this: they feel like superstar movies that some other hero, too, can do (not listing an example to avoid offending fanboys). 'Beast' belongs to the third, forbidden category: this superstar vehicle tempts us to say that it should have been headlined by a medium-range hero. Therein lies its biggest undoing.
This is an action-comedy that unfolds in the backdrop of a hostage situation where the one category that shouldn't have been reduced to a caricature is reduced to worse: terrorists. Amid references to NSA and Mossad, a PM aspirant and a reckless special officer (Selvaraghavan), 'Beast' forgets to construct edgy situations. There is an action sequence where Vijay is in the middle of a life-threatening situation. As the gun battle unfolds, the staging turns out to be amateurish and lacking in dynamism and believability; it is as if Vijay is standing inside a lift, with the doors of the lift opening and closing just at the right time.
The movement of the captors is sketchy. There is a sentimental terrorist who is a conveniently-written stock character. We don't get a clear idea of how many terrorists are there and on which floor. There is no intrigue when Vijay's character is around. It's as if he is there to keep 'Beast' from becoming a full-length comedy. The terrorists barely look menacing. Wait, do you even remember how they look? The captives are never tired of cracking jokes and hurling repartees. One of them even has the mood to body-shame a fellow captive. Yes, this is all semi-funny at least. But then, we didn't sign up for it.
Nothing embodies the film's lack of creative energies more than Vijay parroting Mahesh Babu's punchline from 'Pokiri'. The punchline is fifteen years old! But this punchline is not the only thing that feels borrowed about 'Beast'. A lot of stock situations look old.
Anirudh's background score and Manoj Paramahamsa's cinematography lend a touch of dignity to the film. Vijay's studied portrayal of a gutsy and lucky RAW spy is a huge plus.