AR Murugadoss takes some time to set up his story (to show us how Shiva works) and also spends a few moments on the mandatory romantic track – here, it is Shalini (Rakul Preet Singh, with an almost perfect lip-sync!), who plays the director’s version of cute girl, while she is a actually another addition to the canon of Loosu Ponnu heroines in Tamil cinema (even the director seems uninterested in these scenes) – but once you look away from this diversion, the portions in the first half are quite gripping…
Shiva’s methods to track down the killer of a young girl and his friend, and the chilling flashback portion of Sudalai set up things perfectly for an engrossing thriller. And the anticipation builds to an altogether another level once Sudalai enters the scene.
However, the film kind of goes downhill after the interval. Scenes start to become far-fetched (an episode involving Shiva using women to save a family held captive by Sudalai) and after a point, totally implausible (Shiva trying to stop a massive boulder from wrecking havoc). And all this happens after a suspenseful scene that shows Shiva trying to save his family using his intelligence!
Santhosh Sivan lends the necessary gloss to the visuals, but Harris Jayaraj’s songs are pretty much speed breakers that only add to the length of the film, and kill whatever tension the battle between Shiva and Sudalai generates.
The director doesn’t even exploit the contrasting acting styles of his hero and villain to the full – the understated, almost Zen-like acting style of Mahesh Babu and the over-the-top, but crowd-pleasing performance of SJ Suryah. The writing lets the movie down entirely after a point and, unlike Thuppakki (which was also about a man trying to save and a man trying to destroy), what should have been an edge-of-the-seat cat-and-mouse game between good and evil turns into a movie that cannot decide between wanting to be a crackling thriller and an anything-goes masala movie.