'Top Gear' review: The ride turns joyless half-way

Top Gear feels like an attempt at recreating American action thrillers that deal with hit jobs, gangsters, and the world of drugs; something like Collateral (2004) immediately comes to mind.

Published: 31st December 2022 09:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st December 2022 09:43 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Top Gear feels like an attempt at recreating American action thrillers that deal with hit jobs, gangsters, and the world of drugs; something like Collateral (2004) immediately comes to mind. Here too, the protagonist, Arjun (Aadi Sai Kumar) is a cab driver whose life turns upside down when he crosses paths with a criminal: in this case, a drug lord on the run from cops named Siddarth, played by Mime Gopi (at this point, the actor is creating a stock of characters for himself like Jagapathi Babu). Unfortunately, the Telugu film is only half effective, despite having a neat one-liner.

Top Gear’s initial portions show promise; yes, the generic romantic angle and song don’t add much to the narrative but once the conflict is introduced, the stakes keep getting higher with every step, and until the halfway mark, the promise of a thrilling run is sustained pretty well. The problem starts in the second half when the screenplay gets stuck in a loop of insipid sequences featuring Arjun running from pillar to post to retrieve a bag of drugs belonging to Siddarth, who holds Arjun’s wife, Aadhya (Riya Suman in a thankless role) captive. 

One can clearly sense that Top Gear is one of those attempts that works better as a collection of ideas than as a feature-length film. On the big screen, the redundancies in the screenplay are evident and even the most trivial issues are glaring. For instance, the film features some of the worst shooters in the history of action cinema. These gangsters miss targets at point-blank range. Now, the hero of an action film dodging bullets has become a cliched yet widely accepted trope, but there needs to be some degree of effort to make it look believable or to communicate the danger, right? That effort is missing in Top Gear. Instead, the film mistakes long stretches of a car driving through the roads of Hyderabad to be thrilling.

Although Top Gear neatly establishes the threat early on, it lacks tension as a whole and this acts as a major deterrent. Moreover, it exhibits a lewd gaze toward women. For instance, a bad guy orders a woman to undress in exchange for drugs, and the way the camera captures the action is deeply troubling and discomforting. One can only wish our filmmakers don’t fall down to such distasteful standards.

In a scene that I particularly liked, a goon chases Arjun to kill him and meets with an accident. Arjun, upon seeing the picture of the goon’s wife and daughter on his mobile, calls for medical assistance, and the goon too, in exchange for the kindness, offers the protagonist the information he is been chasing for the entire second half. See, this moment works both on an emotional level and in furthering the plot. Top Gear needed more such moments. While the film had interesting ideas, it needed a more exciting screenplay to hold them together. The lack of an equally taut screenplay ruins the potential of these ideas.

Top Gear 
Cast: Aadi Sai Kumar, Riya Suman, Mime Gopi
Director: Shashikanth
Rating: 2.5/5


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