After watching one of the worst movies of the year for 2022, I had higher expectations of the latest Kamal Haasan movie, Vikram written and directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj who also did the excellent Kaithi which I rated the best movie of 2019. Another reason for the high expectation is that it is a Kamal Haasan movie which means perfection from the master himself. Poster source: IMDB.
Warning: plenty of spoilers ahead!
Read these first:-
- Tamil Movie Review: 1987 Nayakan’s Haunting Saranya Theme
- Tamil Movie Review: Rajavukku Check 2020, Thriller Gripping Storyline
- Tamil Movie Review: Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Super Deluxe 2019
- Indian Cinema 101: Tamil Movie Sad Scenes That Can Make Anyone Cry Part 2
The movie trailer itself says enough about the key characters but remains elusive on what we will expect when we go and watch the movie in full. This was the same premise that Beast did and a lot of people were actually duped into watching the full movie based on the snippets that appeared in the trailer. So, we were a bit cautious about the trailers representing the same impression as the full movie would do.
It is said that this movie is a continuation of 2 movies – one is the Kamal Haasan acted 1986 Vikram where he is a RAW agent and another is Kaithi which was Lokesh’s first action movie. There are returning characters from both movies and Lokesh has managed to infuse them into one solid storyline. Further unlike the dumb Beast movie which basically wasted a good number of characters, this movie on the other maximises the use of the characters to the right level required to strengthen the storyline.
Frankly, there was immense pressure for the Tamil movie industry to get their act together after the recent success of KGF Chapter 2 and RRR and the bombshell of Vijay’s Beast. So the question is will Vikram salvage the reputation of great movie-making from the Tamil movie industry.
We initially did not want to go and see Vikram at the cinema because we did not high expectations after Vijay’s movie. Further, I doubt anyone can overtake KGF Chapter 2 in terms of characters and story. Then seeing positive reviews from social media and also from those who went and actually watched the movie in the cinema, we decided to watch it for ourselves and we were not disappointed. It was a rock-solid presentation from Lokesh and Kamal Haasan.
The much younger-looking RAW Commander Arun Kumar Vikram from the 1986 movie where he faced one of the best villains in the 1980s, the multi-talented Sathyaraj (famous as Kattappa in Bahubali). The 1986 Vikram sets the underlying tone for this 2022 movie. Image source: IMDB
A summary from Wikipedia:-
Following the events after busting the illegal consignment of Adaikalam and Anbu by Inspector Bejoy, Amar, the head of a black-ops team, is summoned by Police Chief Jose to bring justice to a group of masked vigilantes, who have killed Stephen Raj (following his arrest and subsequent release), ACP Prabhanjan and his adopted father, Karnan.
Amar leads the investigation by digging into Karnan’s life, whose murder seems out of place, as Karnan was a common man and the other two were higher officials in the Narcotics division. He learns about Karnan’s past as a drunkard, drug addict, and womaniser, but is very close to his adopted infant grandson. While investigating, Amar learns about the missing containers needed by Sandhanam, who is part of a large family and runs a crime syndicate named Vetti Vagaiyara. Sandhanam wants the drugs to be delivered to his cold-blooded smuggler boss named Rolex, whose identity is unknown to anyone. If the drugs are delivered, Rolex will help Sandhanam form his own government.
Amar chases the masked men, where he confronts the leader, who makes a video call to Sandhanam and reveals himself as Karnan, who is actually alive and faked his death. Karnan kills Rudra Pratap and escapes from the police. Amar learns that Karnan is actually Arun Kumar Vikram aka Vikram, who was the former commander of the black-ops squad, Pilot Black. Vikram, along with his team of eleven members, were disbanded after a botched mission in 1991 and declared as terrorists. Subsequently, they were hunted down and only Vikram and three other members of the team, managed to stay alive. Amar meets up with Jose and slyly finds out that Jose, himself, is Sandhanam’s mole in the department.
It is revealed that Sandhanam was the one who killed Prabhanjan, along with Jose’s help, as he learned about Sandhanam’s involvement with Jose. Jose reveals Vikram’s and Amar’s identity to Sandhanam. Later, Vikram arrives at the prison and frees Bejoy and his team. Sandhanam brutally kills Amar’s wife, Gayathri, and sends his men to attack and kill Vikram’s daughter-in-law and grandson at Prabhanjan’s house, but Vikram arrives and saves them.
Distraught at Gayathri’s death, Amar joins Vikram’s gang to take down Sandhanam and his syndicate. He leaves for Jose’s house and kills him after learning about his involvement in Gayathri’s murder. It is revealed that the reason for Vikram’s actions is not vengenace, but a personal mission to bust the drug syndicate in the city, which manifested, in him, through Prabhanjan’s death. He also admits that Prabhanjan was his own biological son.
In the mid-credits scene, in Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, Anbu and Adaikalam, along with the gangsters affiliated with Sandhanam, hold a meeting with their boss, Rolex. Adaikalam and Anbu reveal Dilli’s involvement in the drug ambush, and Sandhanam’s men reveal Vikram and Amar’s involvement in destroying their drug syndicate.
Rolex announces a huge sum as a reward for the execution of Amar, Dilli and Vikram’s team. They also reveal the current location of Dilli, in Uttar Pradesh, and Vikram’s family in San Francisco. However, unknown to Rolex and everybody else at the meeting, Vikram is hiding amongst the gangsters, and learns about the bounty placed on his team and Dilli.
Although it is not required to make more sense to the storyline, considering that the events in Vikram 2022 take place just after the events in Kaithi, it is highly recommended for one to watch Kaithi upfront before watching this movie. Frankly speaking, Vikram is made with the same high quality and is fast-paced as Kaithi.
Narain who acted as the hard-biting Inspector Bejoy from the movie, Kaithi is back in this movie. Narain is a fantastic actor who we first saw in Mysskin’s 2008 Anjathey movie who showed how the bad can be good and good can be bad. It is one of Mysskin’s better movies with impressive camerawork. Image source: IMDB
The Plus Points
Kamal Haasan executes his character rather flawlessly as Commander Arun Kumar Vikram who is the chief of the 1987 Pilot Black squad and is now known as Karnan. The fact that Kamal Haasan is 67 years old did not show at all in this movie. He is well built, super cool and plays the action roles very naturally.
The others like Fahadh Faasil as the current black squad leader, Agent Amar (we last saw him in the hilarious Super Deluxe movie), Vijay Sethupathi as the insane Vetti Vagaiyara gang leader, Sandhanam and returning to from Kaithi, Narain as Inspector Bejoy managed their roles extremely well as well.
Kudos to the multi-talented Vijay Sethupathi who did not hesitate to take up negative roles again (we have seen him in both negative and positive roles now) but at the same time, infuse positive & comical elements in the same negative roles. In Vikram, he also shows that he is a loving husband and has a great concern for the welfare of his extended family members.
Storyline & Direction
This movie excels on a strong storyline which many Indian moviemakers recklessly miss out on their movies and great care has been taken to tie all the loose ends and minimise illogical storylines.
Lokesh Kanagaraj’s storyline and direction keep the core story right in the centre and it is well-paced too. However it is not a new storyline and at times, it is predictable, especially during the action sequences. He did pull a fast one at the beginning by having Vikram aka Karnan killed off by a masked group leaving us to wonder if the rest of the movie will be a blast from the past and without Vikram moving forward.
However, this movie is not about taking revenge although most of the characters seem to be driven by the motives of revenge. Vikram by the death of his son, Bejoy by the death of his wife & daughter and Amar by the death of his newly married wife.
Vikram however clarifies that the mission is not driven by revenge but rather by a greater mission of cleaning the country from drugs. It is about making a statement. It is about making the world a better place for his grandson to grow up.
One of the biggest and welcome surprises in this movie is Agent Tina and she immediately won everyone’s hearts with her impressive fight action in Vikram so much so she has her own brand bad-ass image. Image source: Twitter
Hats off to Lokesh for getting Vasanthi as Agent Tina who is also the Psychological Warfare Specialist from Vikram’s old team. She is shown as a domestic helper but we saw how swift she was when she grabbed the glass that Amar accidentally dropped right in the beginning. We knew there was something about her but we could not put our fingers to it at first.
But when the gangsters try to break into the house to grab Vikram’s grandson and kill him, she got into the action. She put the mother in a safe room and goes after the goons with just 2 forks. This reminded me of the classic line from John Wick where it is said that he killed with just a pencil.
Being a serious, action-packed movie, it is a good thing that the director did not put a comedian in this movie. However there is no lack of comedy scenes in the movie and one of them involves Santhana Bharathi (Agent Uppiliappan, Communications specialist) in a role as a Gym Owner where he informs Agent Amar that he too had “investigated” the brothel. He then comes back in the second half with a shotgun and seems to be drunk.
The part where Vijay Sethupathi plays the role of the doctor is funny especially when he says that he missed his classes when the lesson was taught.
In a very serious moment after Vikram had rescued his grandson, he then realises that he had missed the milk bottle. He then will ponder for a moment and loads his gun to fight his way to the kitchen to boil the milk. It is a serious but also a funny moment.
This is indeed one of the great moments of the movie even though it is copied from the Dark Knight Rises by Christopher Nolan. Is Lokesh making homage to Nolan by having a similar scene in Vikram? Image source: Twitter
Nolan’s Tribute Scene
The restaurant scene towards the ending where Kamal Haasan watches his grandson from afar reminded me of the end scene from Dark Knight Rises where Michael Caine after thinking that Bruce Wayne had died in the neutron bomb explosion after rescuing the city. Pretty sure we all had tears in our eyes when we saw Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne’s butler & guardian, Alfred Pennyworth crying in front of Wayne’s family grave and saying that he had failed them all.
Then in the end, when he sits in a restaurant, he then sees Bruce Wayne still alive and sitting with Selina Kyle just as Alfred had always wanted. It is a very nice background score in this particular scene. In Vikram, the same happens which leads me to think that Lokesh is actually had this scene as a tribute to Christopher Nolan.
There is the same sense of sadness and relief at the same time – sadness because Vikram will not be able to be with his grandson but there is a relief that the family is safe and Vikram is keeping an eye on them.
Village Cooking Channel team cameo in the movie and Lokesh did justice by them playing the same style of cooking and recording it for Youtube. It is a welcomed cameo in the movie.
For those who are not familiar with them, mind you that they have almost 17 million subscribers on Youtube and they even had Rahul Gandhi as one of the special guests in one of their cooking sessions. One wonders if they did a special take on cooking on the shooting set of Vikram and having all the big stars participating in the cooking,
I do believe that we are having an overdose of Anirudh in recent movies but thankfully, there are no disruptive song videos in the middle of the movie that breaks the momentum. And all songs and background scores that were composed are fully used to bring over the story.
Anirudh did a fantastic job infusing the new version of the music with the Maestro Illaiyaraaja composed Vikram song track from 1986 movie. This title background music set the pace well especially when you are hearing it in a movie theatre. The other compositions like Wasted and Once Upon A Time are custom-made for Kamal Haasan and the action sequences.
Action & Stunt Sequences
Action choreographers and stunt coordinators, Anbu and Arivu who worked on KGF Chapter 1 & KGF Chapter 2 ensure there is no shortage of clever & well-paced action scenes throughout the movie. For some parts of the fighting scenes, Vikram is shown with the mask on so it was easy for the stunt team to have a stuntman take up the active role.
Unfortunately, it also explains why there are a lot of similarities between Vikram and KGF action scenes. There is one where one of the goons would have a knife stuck in his legs by Vikram and when he pulls out, only the handle comes out leaving the metal side still stuck in the leg. Vikram then kicks and sends the knife into the leg.
The Minus Points
Unnecessary brothel scene with the moaning fake sound. Seriously?
What is the objective of this when the escort could have just said that they did nothing and Vikram would go out the window for an hour after handcuffing her to the bed? Or even better, just avoid having this scene in the first place. There is always a better way to carry the same storyline.
(One of the best images from the Kaithi movie – the lone Constable Napoleon in the police station, about to face 15-20 angry bloodthirsty gangsters forcing themselves through the front door. The moonlighting is impressive in this shot. Image source: IMDB)
Disconnection with Kaithi
Mysterious Anbu from Kaithi – didn’t he die in Kaithi when Constable Napolean swung the fire extinguisher and killed him inside the police station? We see him now standing in front of the group together with Adaikalam meeting up with the notorious Rolex. So was this an overlook by the Vikram team?
Then we have this explanation from Lokesh himself on Twitter:-
— Lokesh Kanagaraj (@Dir_Lokesh) June 8, 2022
Surya’s cameo as Rolex was an open secret which took out the surprise in the closing scene. Lokesh should not have mentioned Surya’s name in the opening credit and should have left it to the audience to see for themselves the appearance of Surya. In fact, this became an open secret way before the movie was shown in the cinemas.
Speaking to Film Companion at the Cannes Film Festival, Kamal Haasan finally opened up about Suriya’s cameo in the film. When asked to comment on the ‘rumour’, the veteran actor said,
“It’s no more a rumour. We had to put up our hand and admit that Suriya is playing an incredible last minute appearance. That should take the story a little further, probably into part 3.”
This implies that Vikram not only has a sequel but a planned third part already. However, Kamal did not divulge too many details about it.
(Source: Hindustan Times)
Frankly, it is refreshing to see heroes taking up negative roles with ease after they have established themselves as heroes. Usually, in the past, actors have played negative roles first before they had enough fan base to make the jump into positive leading roles. It has happened before like Rajinikanth and Sathyaraj (in fact, he was the main villain in Vikram 1986).
Surya played both positive and negative roles in the 2016 movie, 24 so it is not a big surprise to see Surya in another negative role.
I rate this as the coolest scene from the 2022 KGF Chapter 2 where Rocky will step into a police station to retrieve a small bar of gold and then drive out to take the US-made M1919 Browning Machine Gun to shoot the police station and police vehicles to pieces. He then lights up a cigarette from the red hot barrel of the machine gun. Image source: Yahoo Movies
Big Guns in Movies
Large gun in the end – in Kaithi, it was M134 Minigun and in Vikram, it is a Russian DShK which has a similar appearance to the US M1919 Browning Machine Gun that Rocky used in KGF Chapter 2. I hope that large machine guns will be a trademark of Lokesh in coming movies although we did not see any in his earlier 2021 Master movie.
But then again, it was kind of tiring to see Vikram unleashing barrels of bullets with the rusted old machine gun especially after one had watched the cooler machine gun scene in KGF Chapter 2. Rocky in a suit was indeed cooler than Vikram.
This movie serves as the second instalment of the so-called Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU) after Kaithi. It is going to be very interesting to see how the third instalment of the LCU will be made and where the references to the first 2 movies will be made.
With the clues left in the social media and interviews, it seems like we will have Kaithi 2, Vikram 2 and Vikram 3 in the future. How each of these movies will connect with each other will be interesting to see. Will we see Karthi back in Kaithi 2 as Dilli? When we will see Vikram in hand to hand fight with Rolex?
It is said that Vikram 2022 will be aired on Disney+ in August so it will be worthwhile watching it again once it airs on Disney+ in August this year. It is definitely in the running for the best Tamil movie of the year.