Hit List Movie Review: A decent thriller with rough edges

Hit List Movie Review: A decent thriller with rough edges

While the film has its heart in the right place, it only manages to shine in sporadic moments, rather than throughout the film
Hit List(2.5 / 5)

Who is a hero? Well, Google describes it as, “A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” In cinema too, we call a film’s protagonist a hero because they’re brave, confront adversity with ingenuity, show kindness, oppose evil, and deliver stirring monologues about righteousness. In the latest outing, Hit List, a hero is defined as someone who overcomes their inherent timidity, to stand up for their family and fight for injustice. Interestingly, this film is also an introduction to a new hero in town, Vijay Kanishka. Be it the film’s definition of a hero, or Kanishka’s unconventional choice of script for his debut, there’s a lot to talk about this suspense thriller. While the film has its heart in the right place, it only manages to shine in sporadic moments, rather than throughout the film.

Director: Sooryakathir and Karthikeyan
Cast: Vijay Kanishka, Sarath Kumar, Sithara, Abi Nakshathra, Gautam Vasudev Menon, Garuda Ram

Vijay Kanishka plays a man (Vijay) whose mother and sister are kidnapped by a masked man. Now, the protagonist has to carry out the orders of the abductor to save his family from being killed. Meanwhile, ACP Yazhvendhan (Sarath Kumar) is also on the case and tries to find the face behind the mask. 

The first ten minutes are probably the weakest portions of the entire film. We see characters played by Bala Saravanan and Aishwarya Dutta providing an introduction to Vijay’s personality, in a scene that is meant to crack us up. However, as we expect the film to be a suspense thriller, we only wonder what value such scenes add to the bigger scheme of things. Fortunately, the film picks up pace after the first quarter, as Vijay’s family is abducted and he gets a call from the kidnapper.

For the rest of the first half and most of the second half, the film goes in rounds as the masked man makes Vijay do some diabolical tasks, such as killing a chicken, and then later killing a human. You may wonder why killing a chicken made it to the list. Well, Vijay is described to be a follower of Vallalar’s ideology and someone who is against the killing of any living being. The film goes to great lengths to establish this belief of Vijay, so much so they get it wrong. Vijay’s meet and greet with Yazhvendhan happens at an event where the former promotes Vegetarianism, by asking the audience to download an app named Go Vegan. While this might be a minor detail in the film, it forms the very basis of Vijay’s personality, and we are left wondering if he is a vegan or a vegetarian. 

The strength of the film hinges on the final 30 minutes, where the true purpose behind the masked man's manipulation of Vijay and the string of murders is revealed. This core message, though important, feels somewhat dated. Nevertheless, the film has its heart in the right place, with the message reflecting a real-life injustice. But the real suspense is at the very end of the film when the identity of the masked man is revealed. The end reveal manages to be something you cannot predict, but the road it takes to get there is rather traffic-heavy. 

Circling back to our hero, Vijay Kanishka, the film predominantly shows him as coy and cowardly and has no heroic traits in him. Unlike films that only use a timid hero to amplify his elevation later on, Hit List is true to its characterisation and pulls no punches in showing how much of a coward its hero actually is and how he is pushed to the other end. Towards the end of the film, he does get his heroic due, as he fights back in an attempt to save his mother and sister. As the credits started rolling, before I could compose my thoughts about the film, I could hear the audience erupt with applause, and I was instantly reminded of something actor Soori said in an interview, “The hero is any character the audience claps for.”

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