Jack and Daniel Movie Review: A largely boring cat-and-mouse thriller
The concept has been done to death, but the familiarity would have been more forgivable had things been presented more engagingly
In Jack and Daniel, Dileep plays a Robin Hood-style thief named Jack (with a business venture called Jack and Chill), and Arjun plays Daniel, a police officer brought on special deputation from Tamil Nadu to nab Jack. But this being a Dileep film, you know that at some point Jack is going to reveal himself to be a virtuous fellow with a darn good reason for stealing all those precious diamonds and a s***load of money. There is indeed a reason, but it feels so forced and lame that I was wondering if this was an Akshay Kumar movie.
Cast: Dileep, Arjun, Saiju Kurup, Ashokan
Director: SL Puram Jayasurya
Jack's background is similar to that of Mammootty's character from the Joshiy's Dubai, minus the revenge angle. The concept of Jack and Daniel has been done to death and the familiarity would not have bothered me had things been presented more engagingly. It probably would have worked a lot better 10 or 20 years ago.
Sometimes the film tries way too hard to be funny and cool that it works to its detriment. A little restraint would have helped. And what was that ridiculous Peter Hein cameo all about? I get that it's a tribute but doesn't someone of his stature deserve something more... elegant?
Also, despite having the 'Action King' Arjun in the film, this is entirely Dileep's show. It's all about how cool and smart Jack is and how stupid every other character is. It doesn't matter how smart and incorruptible Daniel is when Jack is there to overshadow him and show him why he is the smarter one. Jack is like Daniel Ocean, Tony Stark, and James Bond all rolled into one. He is also a master of disguise who must have seen the Mission Impossible films and Baby Driver one too many times. (There is one heist trick here that resembles something from the latter.)
Dileep does exude the charisma and confidence necessary for the role, even though it comes off as cringe-inducing at times. There are moments where it feels like Jack is training himself to walk the ramp sometime in the future. The love track involving Jack and Sushmita (Anju Kurien) is incredibly corny and the stunts, unremarkable (why try to ape Tom Cruise when the skyscraper is going to be rendered in CGI?).
It goes without saying that Arjun is his usual cool self. He lends a (thin) layer of gravitas to the film, but there is nothing extraordinary about his character. We have seen him play way cooler characters before in Tamil cinema. And the fact that he and several other supporting characters are trying to emulate those from a typical Hollywood thriller doesn't help at all. The artificiality in the dialogues gets very tiring after a point — and this point arrives before the intermission itself. You can't help but lose interest when you hear dialogues like "That's great!" or "That's good!" several times. Or characters telling us something really obvious like "Jack is brilliant" or "If he has already done so and so, then he is going to do so and so next."
However, I would be lying if I said I wasn't entertained by some portions involving Innocent as a corrupt but spineless politician, and also some featuring Saiju Kurup and Ashokan as two cops who experience their share of hilariously-embarrassing situations. These actors are capable of taking a badly-written scene or dialogue and turn it to their advantage. They get to have so much fun here. The weird thing here is that we haven't seen Innocent this funny in a very long time. There is a well-staged comical situation involving him and a missing suitcase where you get to witness that vintage Innocent once again.
Jack and Daniel is the sort of film that requires you to suspend your disbelief. But even if you do so, it's still an unexciting, dull cat-and-mouse thriller that only manages to be sparsely entertaining — and that not thanks to its two leads, but because the makers had the good sense to hire a few talented supporting actors. Without them, the film would be completely unendurable.