Commando 3 Movie Review: A smart turnaround for a jaded franchise
Vidyut Jammwal’s film is rescued by some nifty action design and a brilliant Gulshan Devaiah
The new Commando instalment is the smartest of the lot. But it’s also the dumbest. It’s a film where riders have the good sense to flip on helmets before commencing a chase. It’s also a film where ‘viral videos’, the great new fad of Hindi cinema, are both enablers and antidotes of religious discord. Somewhere between Gulshan Devaiah cooking biryani ahead of a butchering spree, and Vidyut Jammwal staging his bravest stunt yet by trying to emote, I ended up having a blast.
Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Adah Sharma, Angira Dhar, Gulshan Devaiah
Director: Aditya Datt
This is action-espionage silliness turned up to the hilt. After a bunch of terror suspects are rounded up in Mumbai, Commando Karan Singh Dogra is called in. His suspicion is that India is under threat, and that someone is masterminding these attacks from London. That mastermind is also a masterchef, restaurant-owner-turned-
The opening minutes of Commando 3 are the most distasteful. Director Aditya Datt uses cheap provocation — a calf being led to slaughter in a terror hideout; a schoolgirl getting harassed in broad daylight — to introduce his heroes and villains. This is unfortunate, for the London portions of the film are slicker than you’d think. There are nifty touches to the action design worth admiring. Put down against a car, Vidyut springs back to his feet, wielding wipers as escrima sticks. The girls kick twice as much butt, turning handcuffs into lethal snares. The action follows the narrative, and at one point even Karan thinks better of mindless violence. “Big locks aren’t meant to be broken,” he says, two-and-a-half films too late. “But picked apart with new keys…”
This franchise has always had fun with its villains. Gulshan Devaiah, fresh off the mayhem of Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, laps Buraq up. Clicking his tongue and doing a fluid Urdu-Brit accent, Gulshan adds refreshing salt to a bland stereotype (Anil George, who usually turns up in these roles, gets a cameo). Like many a Hindi film this year, Commando 3 makes some nasty assertions about Muslim identity in India. It’s become a norm of sorts, though I found the stark insensitivity of this film more palatable than the dodgier politics of War or Batla House.
With years of showreel behind him, Vidyut Jammwal is India’s action film royalty. His Karan has the steady expression of an angry, exasperated owl. The character has proven a fine blank slate for the series, typing up his man bun and embarking on a new mission. One imagines this to be the life of a soldier — cold, dutiful, wedded to the flag and motherland. Perhaps someday we’ll get a better glimpse into our Commando. For now, there are orders to be followed.