As expected, H Vinoth’s Valimai is loaded with high action, drama and glitz. The film, traversing through interesting, dark avenues that are sure to be an eye-opener, tries to convey that power is not just about physical strength — it’s the mind.
Valimai does have a villain but the hero doesn’t grapple with him just to play to the gallery. Though it’s a physical brawl, the real clash is actually between two ideologies. On the downside, Valimai is a tad too long but the film manages to hold our attention to an extent, thanks to scintillating action sequences and zippy background score (Yuvan or Ghibran?, The team thanked the latter).
Arjun (Ajith) is an Assistant Commissioner of Police, a pro in bike racing. In fact, it’s his passion for racing that lands him the job. They call him a people’s cop as he tries his best to change the criminals without taking the law and order into his hands. Life is smooth and rosy for our protagonist with his simple sweet family in Madurai till he lays his hands on a mysterious case involving the unforeseen suicide of a drug peddler.
As he unties the knots and solves the puzzle, Arjun comes to know about a masked gang that executes nefarious activities, like drug peddling, chain snatching and contract murders with the help of technology. In his process of cleaning up the process, Arjun runs into many hurdles, both professional and familial. How Arjun unmasks the faceless yet menacing underworld gang forms the crux of the story.
Valimai is a tailor-made role for Ajith Kumar, who excels as a dashing police officer. Though we have seen glimpses of his bike riding skills in films like Mankatha and Arrambam, here in Valimai he goes all guns blazing. Besides the jaw-dropping action sequences, Ajith also shines as a performer in emotionally intense sequences.
As a filmmaker, H Vinoth has tried to balance his style of filmmaking (Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru and Sathuranga Vettai) and the formulaic elements that are essential to please the fans of a big star like Ajith (thankfully no forced romance, and the songs are very minimal). But the emotional scenes featuring Ajith and his family really test our patience.
It’s heartening to see Ajith acknowledging the inevitable change and reinventing himself by giving more scope to the content. His decision to move away from clichéd romantic tracks is equally commendable. Valimai would’ve worked better if Vinoth had treated it as a standalone action thriller without needless subplots to woo the family audience.
Kartikeya is menacing playing the baddie, but when you are running into a hero who effortlessly pulls off negative roles (Mankatha, Varalaru, Vaale), it’s tough to match up to his screen presence. Huma Qureshi too excels in action sequences. The rest of the cast has nothing much to offer, with veterans like Sumithra, GM Sundar, and Achyuth Kumar playing minimal roles.
Besides H Vinoth’s intricate research, what stands out is the films’ technical brilliance. Major credit must go to the action department brilliantly executed by stunt choreographer Dhilip Subbarayan. Cinematographer Nirav Shah’s visuals add a touch of class and grandeur to the film.
The background score is truly outstanding, drawing comparisons with any other international action thriller.
At 180 minutes, the film is quite long, and it would have worked better with 20-30 minutes shorter. In a nutshell, it’s a cracker of a ride for Ajith fans and high-octane action lovers, but for the larger audience, it may not be enough at all.