'Weapon' movie review: An incoherent, unfocussed misfire

The film from time to time, feels like a mishmash of advertisement footage too.
'Weapon' movie review: An incoherent, unfocussed misfire

CHENNAI: Hollywood superhero films have been a dime a dozen over the last decade, and when we do catch one that we like, we invariably go, “If they can make it, why can’t we?” Perhaps the new Tamil film, Weapon, was born from such a question. Perhaps that’s why there are traces of Magneto and Superman in characters. Perhaps that’s why Hitler and his Swastika symbol feature prominently. I thought I saw traces of Bucky in how a character looked, Iron Man in how another character lands and poses. This film, in fact, seems overeager to include every template trope from Hollywood superhero cinema. There’s laboratory experimentation. There is the evil, powerful, all-controlling elite. There’s a group of assassins (or as the film refers to them many times, Uhssawsins). The idea of a super-soldier. There’s the idea of cloning. Someone else cares about ecology conservation. Someone else talks about genetic modification. And all of these concepts get haphazardly jumbled in this two-hour film. If you are wondering how the film can do justice to the exploration of as many ideas, the answer is simple: It doesn’t.

The film is so hard to follow. It’s constantly cutting from one idea to another, from one masked group to another—even as the background music tries hard to convince us something awesome is going on. Here’s NSG capturing someone. Oh wait, here’s a YouTubers group and a song about it. No, wait, let’s look at an evil businessman. Hang on, here are a group of evil elite people who control everything. Or maybe you’d like to look at a group of assassins instead? I could go on and on, as the film does, as it incoherently introduces us to all these ideas and struggles to bring them together into a meaningful, entertaining whole. All the awkward, bordering on silly, conversations in the film don’t help. A woman who’s had her life saved by a super-hero figure bizarrely decides after the interval that he’s a monster and needs another character to point out the obvious that he, in fact, saved her life from those who wanted to kill her. A man who’s hiring a group of assassins tells them that his data on them shows that they have achieved 100 percent of their targets. “I’ve hired more than 30 groups of assassins who have all been killed,” he warms up. “But I pick you because you target the enemy’s weakness.” Uh, as opposed to what? Even some corporate conversations are more engaging.

Weapon, from time to time, feels like a mishmash of advertisement footage too. Here’s some from the Visit Theni campaign. Here’s some from the Elephants Are Our Friends campaign. In any case, the whole elephant-Mithran (Sathyaraj) bond seems established in a song as an anxious afterthought, as though someone suddenly realised that there’s nothing up till that point in the second half to make us care for any character. The film is also constantly telegraphing its developments in advance. You see an elephant being introduced suddenly; you know what’s coming. You see Vinothini Vaidyanathan’s character with a child; you know what’s coming. Even the big Vasanth Ravi twist amounts to little, and his sudden U-turn concerning a character feels downright absurd. Amid all of this, we also get blocks of exposition, where a narrator tells you the story to some cool, graphic visuals. At one point, I thought this seemed a lot more interesting than all the live-action footage.

The VFX is quite all right, and if there’s any merit in the film, it’s that certain ambitious action ideas are executed in a way that doesn’t leave us stifling laughter. I thought the pre-interval Sathyaraj action block was quite decent, even if all the slo-mo meant that the one-sided fight seemed like it was going on and on. In fact, narratively speaking, the only idea that I cared a bit about was Sathyaraj’s Mithran being a bit of a Hancock figure. A reclusive super-powerful individual minding his own business. A better film would have spent more time on him and allowed us to truly understand his pain and loneliness.

If they can make it, why can’t we? The answer to this is usually a rant about our smaller budgets and lack of VFX know-how. In the case of Weapon, the ambition is evident, the VFX isn’t half-bad, but the storytelling is as weak as the film’s villains. Somewhere in the first half, Vasanth Ravi’s character is droning on about superheroes and a woman interrupts: “Listen, don’t watch Hollywood films.” I’d never go as far to suggest it, but next time around, while we pay attention to all the tropes and the common ideas in the superhero film template, perhaps we will also pay attention to those honest, little moments of vulnerability that endear characters to us. That’s why after Endgame, in considering Tony Stark, we might forget all the weapons he used, but we will never forget him telling his daughter, “I love you 3000.”

Director: Guhan Senniappan

Cast: Sathyaraj, Vasanth Ravi, Tanya Hope, Rajiv Menon

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

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