Cast: Mohanlal, Vishal, Hansika, Rashi Khanna
Rating - 3/5
To begin with, B Unnikrishnan's Villain isn't your kind of movie where the sole aim of the protagonist is to rough up the antagonist or to rise above the system or even establish a sense of righteousness, just because he happens to be the 'hero'. Rather, it attempts to refurbish the concepts of hero and villain. While this process may not exactly be an answer to its box office expectations, it does satiate our quest for a different cinematic experience.
This is achieved through creating a protagonist with a solid sense of virtue, but one who doesn't exactly play to the gallery. Mohanlal's Mathew Manjooran is not your popular hero mould, for he doesn't take the path of vengeance and wreaks havoc. Instead, he has another take on the subject. Well, that may not be what Mohanlal's horde of fans will expect, but one should learn to love that perception too. In fact, the character of Mathew is a brilliant construct. An ex-cop who is mourning the death of his wife and daughter, Mathew decides to take voluntary retirement but gets involved in a murder mystery. As he attempts to tie the loose ends, Mathew finds himself taking on Shaktivel Palaniswamy (Vishal), whose idea of justice (or alternate justice) clashes with that of his.
While the cat-and-mouse game goes on, it is the parallel narrative that catches our interest. He may be a cop, but Mathew questions the popular sense of right and wrong. In an elaborate and key sequence involving Shaktivel and Mathew, the director effectively opens up a debate in this regard.
While Shaktivel is adamant in his stance on seeking revenge, Mathew's wisdom is above such shallow feelings. He says: "Revenge destroys the one who takes it." This well-scripted sequence ends with Mathew exhorting Shaktivel to find the hero, rather than the villain, in him.
It is such emotional sequences that work in the favour of Villain, like an extremely emotional one between Mathew and his wife Neelima (Manju Warrier) at the hospital. Here, it is the concept of love that takes another meaning altogether. That Mohanlal is brilliant as Mathew would be an understatement here. His subdued performance lifts the character to another level, thereby communicating volumes with little or no expression. And, it is his charisma that conceals the movie's many flaws, including its cliches.
Many might criticise Villain for its slow pace, which is disappointing for a cop story. But, then, when a movie deals with 'grey areas' of life, it is not easy to be taut and steady.
But, many times, the narrative takes an illogical turn, like in the portion where Mathew zeroes in on Shaktivel. Only if these loopholes were plugged, Villain would have made a better thriller. Vishal, meanwhile, puts up an engaging debut, so does Hansika. Manju, as Neelima, has a good chemistry with Mohanlal. Villain also benefits from its technical brilliance. That said, Mohanlal's latest may not be a thrilling edge-of-the-seat outing, but it takes a different route, one that is enjoyable.