Director: Siddharth Anand
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, Vaani Kapoor
War is the new age film of action cinema in Bollywood. Stunts are getting rhythmic, (or were it just Tiger Shroff and Hrithik Roshan) and action is getting classier than ever. Perhaps, the same could be said about the camera movement and direction as far as action sequences go. For a film touted to be from the action-espionage thriller, that was a sore point.
War rolls out an opening sequence with instrumental music and video-game visuals that look like live-animation as Tiger Shroff enters the film. He felt plastic for the first half of the film. His performance was much better in the post-interval and the innocence about his efforts makes the audience want to vouch for him.
The Siddharth Anand directorial in fact rests on the suave swagger of its lead Hrithik Roshan, who makes the bizarrely unreal action feel like a piece of cake. The megastar defies age and mortality in the film. It’s only like he is getting better experienced with age and more immortal for his class of superhumans. Hrithik and Tiger utterly believe the plot they are in and the characters they play, and that becomes a selling point for a film that is unbelievable by all standards.
While the makers tried to induce all elements of a big event film in War (understanding the financial concerns of a film like this) it is, in fact, it’s writing that keeps the audience rooting for the film. The narrative is gripping, and despite resting on old-school clichés of the genre like plastic surgery—a trope mastered in Farhan Akhtar’s Don 2—and revenge for the beloved, some new playouts here and there save the film from getting typically boring. There are obvious interventions of Hrithik-Tiger-together-therefore-they-must-dance/fight sequences; for instance in the song “Jai Jai Shivshankar”. In that regard, the makers fed that which they thought audiences wanted to see but overestimated it.
The action and chase sequences are innovative and keep the audience’s attention hooked for the most part until the deal-breakers like extended action get in the way and ruin everything. While the film in an urge to establish the set-up of the film in the first half is uneven and fast-paced, the second half with all explanations of the why’s and what’s raised in the first half is more balanced. The show and tell in that regard and the balance Siddharth tries to achieve is commendable.
The second half of the film opens in an entirely different space, keeping the audience wondering if it is still the interval advertisement being played out but, the film just takes another ride from the very beginning of the second half that introduces Vaani Kapoor for a set role of 10 minutes. She becomes the main plot-driver, but for the importance of that kind, her character is barely given screen-time, another sore point of the narrative.
There is one particular scene in the second half where an action scene plays out in a way that looks like all of the destruction and drama was designed for that one moment when Hrithik will ride his bike through fire, literally.
There are Mission Impossible vibes to War and Hrithik Roshan going rogue as an agent brings to mind Tom Cruise, but Hrithik has the infallible superhuman swag which is unquestionable.
The background score serves well the genre of the film, as does outdated choral music for action sequences. There could be better innovation, as far as the addition of a special background score for the two leads was concerned, that could have been more worked upon.
War takes no political stance, and in fact, tries to be as much politically correct as possible. For a change, the word Pakistan was not used to signify the enemy across borders, the term simply used was ‘dushman’(enemy) and that could be anyone, but obvious territorial partners are always the first on the mind.
Hrithik gets beaten around in the final climax fight, but he returns to dominate as all Hindi film heroes do. One keeps vouching for that X-Bollywood-factor that will come save the hero or take a bullet for him, but that never happens. He is all out against the world or those who incite terror in India. Hrithik’s brand of nationalism is un-emphasised. For most parts, it looked like he loved doing what he did for the sake of it, despite him being a secret service agent of India, while Tiger has more potent claims to nationalism as is his character’s backstory in War.
The film does not leave you with anything, and perhaps it doesn’t intend to. The text is worth 2.5 hours of your day and it promises nothing more than the price of your ticket.