'An Action Hero' movie review: Fun, farcical, and fabulous caper-comedy

Fragile egos set a lot of balls rolling (and busting) in this mad caper which turns ludicrous by the minute yet remains massively entertaining.

Published: 03rd December 2022 11:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th December 2022 04:52 PM   |  A+A-

Ayushmann Khurrana in 'An Action Hero'.

Ayushmann Khurrana in 'An Action Hero'.

Express News Service

In a particular scene in 'An Action Hero', Ayushmann Khurrana’s vainglorious superstar Maanav is flat on the floor, pinned down by Jaideep Ahlawat’s Jat-brute Bhoora Solanki. Bhoora is almost sitting on Maanav, like a sleep demon, and in this tense moment, he spills the actual reason behind all the chasing. “People leave their work to watch your movies,” he screams at Maanav.

“What you consider your wealth is our love, which we have given, with our will. So, when we ask you to dance, you dance, when we ask you to sing, you sing and when we ask you to click a photo with us, you click a photo with us.” Maanav starts laughing at this, like a villain waiting to press a button on some secret landmine. “I thought you had come for revenge, but it’s actually your ego.”

Fragile egos set a lot of balls rolling (and busting) in this mad caper which turns ludicrous by the minute yet remains massively entertaining. Maanav is the eponymous Action Hero, who thinks stardom is measured by how long people wait for a picture with you. This doesn’t sit well with (land) lordly Vicky Solanki, brother of local politician Bhoora Solanki. A car chase, in which a Mustang is being tailed by a Fortuner, ensues. One might expect a crash but director Anirudh Iyer saves it for later. 

The confrontation scene between Maanav and Vicky, on a lonely road in Haryana, is exemplary. It is devoid of any background music till Maanav shoves him and hits his head on a rock. The score kicks in only when the realization sinks in.

What follows is Maanav, running in the shoes of Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya to the UK, only to be pursued by the vengeful big brother Bhoora. Jaideep Ahlawat can play raging beasts in his sleep but this one isn’t just gleefully parodic, it’s also deep and makes one question: aren’t revenge flicks just about the male ego scorned? Ayushmann might not have the image of an action hero but he dexterously plays the narcissistic star. The way he puts on his sunglasses and switches on the actor mode, even when he is being labelled as a fugitive, will surely induce some chortles. Even in the action sequences, Ayushmann is glorious. He will cannonball off car tops, swing on scaffoldings, and deliver clean flying kicks to prove his battle mettle. 

It is also interesting to notice how different the action styles are throughout the film (two stunt directors: Ian Van Temperly from the UK and Stunt Silva from India, were employed.) Ayushmann’s action in the beginning, while he is shooting, is (super) heroic, later, it becomes believable yet choreographed, while Jaideep’s remains consistently mad-bashing.

In the film, a policeman questions the relevance of a director of photography in society. But nobody can question cinematographer Kaushal Shah’s prowess. An Action Hero is beautifully shot in the grey and rainy UK countryside and thanks God they don’t show Big Ben or the Union Jack. 

Anirudh Iyer’s direction is sharp and slick and he puts his signature subtly. Notice the scene where he goes 360 degrees across Bhoora’s house, showcasing the mourners and the white background during Vicky’s last rites. Or, how the camera swings with the revolver when Maanav boomerangs it towards a goon. Masterful.

The satirical bits are both the strengths and the weaknesses of An Action Hero. The media circus over Maanav’s predicament is funny till it gets overbearing. The film, however, scores on its absurdist humour. Sample this scene: Maanav is kidnapped by a bunch of thugs. He asks them who they are, but they don’t tell. He offers them money, but they refuse. He asks them why they have abducted him, they say it’s their work. “But people work for money, bro,” reasons Maanav. “No, we love our job,” replied the gangsters.

Beneath all the style and silliness, there is still substance in An Action Hero. In the shiny garb of an action-thriller, it talks about the brittleness of star culture, fandom bordering on ownership, and the ego at the centre of it all. 

As Maanav sums it up: “What is happening here? Is this a movie?”

Film: An Action Hero
Director: Anirudh Iyer
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Madhav, Harsh Chhaya
Rating:  3.5/5


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