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Tamil Movie Review 101: Leo 2023 – Rushed, Nothing Fantastic

Lokesh Kanagaraj Vijay 2023 Tamil Movie Leo

After Master, Kaithi and Vikram, there was a great deal of anticipation for Lokesh Kanagaraj’s next action Tamil movie titled Leo starring Vijay who was looking out to recover the poor reviewed Beast in 2022. First impressions looked good but then so was Beast when the trailer came out. Image source: Reddit

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Introduction

Leo is a 2023 Tamil-language action thriller film directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj and produced by Seven Screen Studio. The film is the third instalment in the Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU) and is loosely based on the 2005 Hollywood film A History of Violence, which was adapted from the graphic novel of the same name.

The film explores themes such as violence, family, loyalty, and redemption.

The movie was released worldwide on 19 October 2023 in standard and IMAX formats to mixed reviews from critics, who praised Vijay’s performance, Kanagaraj’s direction, and Anirudh Ravichander’s music, but generally criticized the film’s length, plot holes, and excessive violence.

The film was a commercial success, breaking several box office records for a Tamil film. It emerged as the highest-grossing Tamil film of 2023 and the fourth-highest-grossing Indian film of 2023.

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Impressive trailer which basically covers the most key scenes of the movie. However, the actual movie seems rushed and could have been polished for better. A good background score enhances the overall scenes crafted by Lokesh who is still fresh from his blockbuster, Vikram in 2022.

The Plot

Parthiban “Parthi” runs a café in Theog, Himachal Pradesh with his family and rescues wild animals with his friend Joshy, a forest ranger. He adopts a hyena after subduing it with his son Siddhu. He kills a group of robbers who attack his café and employee Shruthi and gets arrested and released. He becomes a celebrity sort of with his photos appearing in the local newspapers.

His photo reaches Antony Das, a gangster in Telangana, who claims Parthi is his son Leo Das, a notorious criminal. Antony comes to Theog and threatens Parthi to surrender. Parthi denies it but his wife Sathya and Joshy investigate his past. They find out about Parthi’s friend Hridayaraj, who is on death row.

Parthi’s past is revealed to Joshy by Hridayaraj where he and Elisa were twins who worked for their father Antony and his partner Harold, who ran a drug business under the cover of a tobacco factory. Antony, a superstitious man, wanted to sacrifice Elisa to boost his tobacco sales, but Parthi foiled his plan and burned Harold’s drugs. Harold killed Elisa and Antony shot Parthi, who survived but went into hiding.

Joshy realizes that Parthi is not Leo, and Sathya confirms it with evidence. But Antony kidnaps Siddhu and plans to kill him instead of Elisa. Parthi and Napoleon chase them and Parthi kills Antony and his goons, but Siddhu is missing. Harold demands Antony’s body for Siddhu’s life.

Parthi goes to Harold’s place, where he fights his way to Harold. He points a gun at Harold, who confesses that Parthi is not Leo and offers to let him go. Parthi laughs and reveals that he is then shoots Harold, saves Siddhu and sets fire to the factory. He says that his past is full of evil deeds and anyone who wants to know it must be dead or dying.

Parthi thought he had finally found peace after destroying his family’s datura factory and exposing their crimes. He had left behind his old identity and settled into a normal life. But one day, he received a phone call that shattered his illusion.

The voice on the other end said he knew Parthi was Leo and that his mission was not over. He said there were still drugs everywhere in India and that Parthi had to do something about it. He also hinted that he knew who he was and that Parthi should recognise him too. Parthi felt a surge of frustration and dread as he realised he could not escape his past.

Note: Summarised from Wikipedia

/Leo Vijay Lokesh Kanagaraj Tamil Movie

Vijay is sporting a great hairstyle here in this movie but looks too young to play the father of a teenager. They should have changed that character to be his adopted brother instead of his son. Basically, it is a Vijay-focused movie. Image source: IMDB

The Performances

The performances of Vijay and the other actors were satisfactory, but Vijay did not seem to age enough to play the father of a young adult. Among the supporting cast, which included Trisha and Gautham Menon, two actors impressed me more than the others.

One was George Maryan, who reprised his role as the policeman Napoleon from Kaithi and did a splendid job. The other was Mysskin, who portrayed Shanmugam, the head of the criminal group that causes trouble in Parthi’s cafe and forces him to confront his past and reveal his identity.

Sanjay Dutt as Antony Das and Arjun as Harold Das despite being seasoned actors in their respective industries failed miserably as the villains in this movie. Their presence in the many scenes hardly struck any fear or confidence that they were ruthless. They hardly achieved the level of villainy that Vinayakan as Varman in Jailer or Suriya as Rolex in Vikram managed to achieve.

The Direction

The direction and cinematography can be considered top-notch considering it is from Lokesh Kanagaraj who has maintained consistency in all his movies to date.

However, there were some scenes that totally unnecessary like the capturing of the hyena scene at the start of the movie which does not make any sense and is a total waste of time. The flashback storyline was not well executed and seems to be in done a rushed manner. The reason for Antony Das wanting to kill his own daughter was so flimsy.

Lokesh Kanagaraj movies are well known for their great fighting scenes and in Leo, this was not disappointing with the fight scenes well choreographed, thanks to the Anbariv duo who also had worked on Vikram to give us some of the most memorable fight scenes.

Music and Soundtrack

When it comes to the music and the background score, Anirudh Ravichander did his magic again although his work in Vikram is more outstanding. Naa Ready sung by Vijay himself is the winner here with its catchy, fast-paced rhythm and with Dinesh’s dance choreography, it will be one song that will long be remembered.

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The song sequence itself is well-placed & involves a good number of background dancers. As of date, the lyrical version has been watched more than 190 million times on YouTube. The other song that became famous due to this movie is the Karu Karu Karupayi composed by Deva from the 2000 Tamil movie, Eazhaiyin Sirippil. Despite it being 23 years old, Deva’s composition is still fresh & is a great song for a dance sequence.

Conclusion

One has to admit that whilst Leo is not the best work of Lokesh Kanagaraj (Vikram is), it is a good redemption for Vijay after the 2022 Beast. This movie ties both Kaithi (in the form of Napolean coming to his house to provide security) and Vikram (in the form of the phone call that Parthi gets from Vikram) hence making it a part of the Lokesh Cinematic Universe aka LCU.

It is rumoured that we may get Leo Part 2 in the future but it may not directed by Lokesh as he has committed to doing only 10 movies before retiring. He has one movie starring Rajinikanth next, then Kaithi 2 and Vikram 2 next. There is even one rumoured to focus on Rolex.

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