Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Vikram is a thoroughly enjoyable action thriller with several high moments with detailed characterizations for all the three astute performers — Kamal Haasan, Fahadh Faasil, and Vijay Sethupathi. Though Kamal plays the titular role in this stylish thriller, Lokesh has given more screentime to Fahadh and Sethupathi as well.
Karnan (Kamal Haasan) is a heavy drunkard trying to come out of the deep wounds caused by the death of his son Prabhanjan (Kalidas Jayaram), an upright cop.
To investigate the serial killings of high-ranking cops and unmask the dreaded gang behind the murders, the government seeks the help of Amar (Fahadh Faasil) and his team. In the process, Amar finds out that Karnan’s real name is Vikram, the commander of the secret service in the 1980s; he is on a mission against all corrupt officials and drug mafia kingpin Santhanam (Vijay Sethupathi). Now, can Vikram and his team destroy the powerful Santhanam and clean the system?
Until the intermission point, Kamal only comes in a few scenes, more like an extended cameo. Lokesh, a huge fan of the actor, unleashes the powerful face of Kamal only towards the end of the first half. The interval stretch is a scintillating sequence, which in a way sums up the character arcs of Kamal, Fahadh, and Sethupathi.
Vigilante, doting dad
Nevertheless, the director builds up the plot with the author-backed roles of Fahadh, a no-nonsense officer, and Vijay Sethupathi, a heartless monster. Throughout the second half, Lokesh has given the much-needed elevation to Kamal, who has multiple faces — vigilante, secret agent, a doting dad, and lovable granddad. Needless to say, Kamal has played his role to perfection. After a long gap, his fans will have a blast in theatres, especially in the high-octane action sequences. With the ghost angle, Lokesh also pays tribute to The Dark Knight Rises (watch out for that scene in the second half).
It’s amazing how Lokesh comes up with a superhero angle to Vijay Sethupathi in his films. While in Master, Sethupathi had all his powers in his fist, here, he got all the powers in drugs. Just like Popeye the Sailor Man (who gains incredible strength after eating spinach), Sethupathi turns into a monster, who can wreak havoc after he consumes a pinch of cocaine.
Fahadh steals the show once again with his powerful eyes and unique performance in Vikram. Perhaps, Amar is easily the best-written role in the film. A cameo by Suriya in the climax makes us walk out of the movie hall with a high. Lokesh also hints about the third instalment of Vikram 3 with Suriya and Kamal, with obvious references to Kaithi and Dilli (Karthi).
On the downside, many may not like love the slow-paced detailed narration in the first half of the film; certainly, it’s not for the masses. Lokesh took his own time to set the stage by establishing all his main characters. But on the brighter side, the second half is packed with twists, turns, and terrific big-screen moments.
Besides the powerful performances and superb writing, Vikram also stands tall because of the brilliant work of music composer Anirudh, stunt directors Anbariv (one of the best action films in recent times), and cinematographer Girish Gangadharan.
Vikram is a treat for all action lovers, with the second half upping the ante. In a nutshell, Kamal is back with a bang and Lokesh is here to stay.