Walter Movie Review: A bland cop in a bad film
Despite having a passable plot that could have been turned into a harmless entertainer, Walter is made irredeemable by its inept screenplay and execution
Sibiraj's new cop film starts with a voiceover by Sathyaraj, followed by a buildup for the hero intro. We get to see glimpses of his police accessories, before the final reveal of the hero, who lathi charges a bunch of protesters shouting, "Gate-ah izhuthu moodra." Does this ring a bell? Hold that thought. One of the supposed villains is an organ mafia kingpin, who kidnaps people with a particular trait, and he has a split-screen phone conversation with the hero, during which both of them lose their cool. Full points if you got the references to Kaakha Kaakha, Vettaiyadu Vilayadu, and Yennai Arindhaal. But Walter is neither a spiritual sequel to Gautham Menon's cop trilogy nor a homage. Instead, it feels like a bland recreation of the filmmaker's work by a bunch of naive YouTubers.
Director: U Anbarasan
Cast: Sibiraj, Shirin Kanchwala, Bava Chelladurai, Natty
Producer: Shruthi Thilak
When Walter was announced with Sibiraj as the lead, I anticipated its plot to have some connection to Sathyaraj's 1993 blockbuster Walter Vetrivel; perhaps Walter would be the next generation cop from Vetrivel's family. But the only link here is the title. We are, in fact, hardly given any background for the character. Sibiraj's Walter is pretty much stone-faced throughout. The other main character Eshwaramoorthi, played by writer Bava Chelladurai, is no better. Whenever these characters come together for a scene, it is like watching ventriloquists minus the puppets.
A cop film must have a strong and well-written protagonist that the audience can root for and a solid conflict at its core. This could be an unsolved case or an unruly villain causing chaos. The challenge here, unfortunately, is on par with a spot-the-object kids show like Dora The Explorer. And brain surely isn't Walter's strongest muscle as the only way he solves his case is through prompts from others. Despite dealing with a case of missing kids and unnatural deaths, Walter doesn't think much about the autopsy report or its authenticity until a drunk mortuary worker points it to him out of frustration. Though he talks at length about his fail-proof instinct when it comes to judging criminals (probably the 49th callback to Gautham's Vettaiyadu Vilayaadu), Walter is more of a sophisticated goon who goes on encounter killing people without verifying their criminal records. He does this just because he is asked to. He neither bothers to think nor question the authority. Hey, isn't this what John Vijay does as a bad cop in every other Friday release?
After a hyper-generic first half, Anbarasan decides to spice things up and turns the story into a game of spot-the-main-villain. Though this creates some interest initially, it fizzles out and becomes unintentionally funny towards the end, reminding us of Manobala's car chase comedy in Kalakalappu.
Natty perhaps is the only redeeming grace of this colossal clutter. The actor really impresses in a tailor-made role. How I wish I was able to say the same for the rest of the cast!
Despite having a passable plot that could have been turned into a harmless entertainer, Walter is made irredeemable by its inept screenplay and execution. We know that a character is about to get hit by a car when the location shifts to a lonely road and a wide shot. We know that there's going to be a needless love song when the heroine randomly shifts to transparent sarees. We know the intermission is near when a character starts a lengthy monologue starring straight into the camera. The number of cliches in Walter is virtually endless.
Walter ends with a force-fed message, but the one delivering it isn't Samuthirakani for a change. Anbarasu manages to touch upon the most pressing issue of today, the coronavirus outbreak, and attempts to draw a connection to the story. I appreciated this effort to make his film feel relevant. I only wish he had invested the same energy in all other aspects of Walter.