Beast Movie First Impression: The fiery Vijay-Nelson combo deliver a stylish misfire
A quick mini spoiler-free write-up of Nelson's Beast, starring Vijay, Pooja Hegde, Selvaraghavan, VTV Ganesh, and more
Stakes. This word determines a lot of things in our commercial films. What is the want of the protagonist? Even if the lead is an invincible entity, there needs to be something that grounds the superheroes of our films. Be it in Nelson's Kolamaavu Kokila or Doctor, it is the stakes that determine the path that the motley group of the filmmaker's protagonists takes. If the illness of a mother pushes Nayanthara's Kokila to become the Pablo Escobar of Purasawakkam, it is a missing child that pushes Sivakarthikeyan's Varun and Co to enter the rabbit hole of human trafficking. However, in Beast, this lack of stakes pushes the film down to a point of no return. It isn't that we doubt that the hero would save the day, but for a superhero like Beast's Veeraraghava, the writing needed to give him a lot more ammunition.
What first piqued my interest was the innovatively designed title card that reintroduces "Thalapathy Vijay" with bullets and the theme of Master. And it is Anirudh's name that follows, and rightfully so, because here is a composer who seems to reserve his best for Vijay, and he doesn't disappoint one bit. A rather sedate intro scene for Vijay's Veeraraghavan sets the mood right for the kind of world that has the Nelson stamp all over it. The entire sequence where we are acquainted with the style of Veeraraghavan is filled with explosives, guns, knives, and to be honest, throats were hoarse from the incessant cheering for the wonderfully staged sequences by choreographers Anbariv and DoP Manoj Paramahamsa. However, the cracks begin to show with the random romantic detours featuring Pooja Hegde, who is relegated to saying things that our heroines generally don't but doesn't really push the envelope too far either. While there is no doubt that Arabic Kuthu can easily stake claim to the "song of the year" throne, the segue to this song was anything but natural. In fact, it was too forced that it took a good few seconds to get into the mood of this chartbuster.
While Nelson does present Vijay in a new avatar of a suave spy, who brandishes guns in style, knives with pizzazz, and grenades with abandon, there does seem to be something off about the whole scheme of things. See, the absence of logic in such masala films, especially invasion thrillers like this one, is never a problem, but it is important to be true to the world, and Beast falters on this front. Characters walk in and out as they please. Comedians of repute mouth inanity but aren't half as absurd as they think it is. The screenplay has a mind of its own, and some scenes hit us out of nowhere, and not necessarily in a good way. Villains are caricatures at best, and brainless dimwits at worst. Despite all this, if the film works it is majorly due to the screen presence of Vijay who is cementing his superstardom one film at a time. Experimenting with his character sketch is an interesting facet of Beast, which is further enhanced by inventive stunt sequences that trade logic for style, and of course, no one is complaining.
It is clear that Nelson is developing a Nelson Cinematic Universe with either recurring characters or recurring character traits. However, unlike a Doctor or a Kolamaavu Kokila, Beast doesn't have consistency in the supporting characters. A hilarious VTV Ganesh and an impressive Selvaraghavan steal the show in a film that had Nelson regulars like Yogi Babu, Redin Kingsley, Sunil Reddy and Shiva Aravind, who just recently won our hearts in Doctor.
The biggest problem when young directors cast big superstars is to see whether the final product will be a director's film or the superstar's film, or it will be an amalgamation of both. In the case of Beast, what we get is a redefined Vijay, clearly at the top of his game, in a bombastic film that desperately needed more of Nelson's quirks that we have grown so fond of over four years and three films. At the end of the day, it is not important if it is a Nelson padam or a Vijay film as long as it works, but unfortunately, Beast ends up being a misfire, albeit quite a stylish one.