Saturday, April 1, 2023

Movie Review | Hunt - An intriguing, yet inferior remake


28 January 2023

“A police officer suffers amnesia as a result of an accident moments before he reveals the identity of a murderer” - the set-up alone is enough to put one on the edge of the seat. In this ambitious thriller - a remake of the 2013 ‘Mumbai Police’ starring Prithviraj Sukumaran - we open to sufficient intrigue with our protagonist, ACP Arjun (Sudheer Babu) reeling in from the realisation that the answers to his friend’s murder may forever be lost if he doesn’t report the identity of the killer to his superiors in 48 hours.

Commissioner of Police, Mohan Bhargav (Srikanth) is the only one who knows the impact the accident has had on Arjun’s ability to fully solve the case. However, knowing Arjun’s amnesia could cost him the case, Mohan resolves to keep it a secret from everyone else and buy time for Arjun to retrace his steps. When Arjun is attacked at his apartment as soon as Mohan drops him off, the duo have reason to believe that it was instigated by the murderer. Following the three suspects and their motives through intertwined sequences that occur in flashbacks, Arjun’s alienation from his surroundings echoes heavily as he questions what he can trust. Scenes of Arjun’s friendship with Aryan (Bharath Niwas) play out as we sympathise with Arjun’s relentless pursuit of his friend’s killer. Part investigative thriller, part procedural, this movie pulls together Arjun’s story and the drive behind his single-minded quest for Aryan’s killer along with clues to his own character. As he goes down the rabbit hole, he comes to realise that he might not be ready to face the reality of either.

Like it or not, remakes evoke comparisons. Prithviraj Sukumaran is a tough act to follow as it were and Sudheer Babu barely looks comfortable on screen at places in comparison. Sudheer Babu unfortunately is unable to translate the range of his predecessor’s performance and falls short of delivering what could have been a career-defining performance. A lot more can be said about the supporting cast, though, who are well-cast and impress with subtle performances.

The cinematography is possibly its most laud-worthy aspect. The raw look of the original has been traded in for glossy, neon-lit scenarios, which have been handled excellently by Arul Vincent. The protagonist lives in a swanky, upscale apartment straight out an avant-garde home catalogue and the movie gets the switch in tone right aesthetically. However, had the performances been better, perhaps the upgrade would have had its intended effect. The action scenes are engaging and this is where Sudheer Babu’s dedication shows.

A major complaint, however, is that the movie suffers from the loss of an organic sound. Somehow, the movie’s score and sound design fail to impress entirely. In quite a few key sequences, the absence of elevation even felt jarring when the sequence played out at another pace altogether. The dialogue, too, is quite inorganic in places. The staging is underwhelming and even takes away from the tension built into the scenes.

Overall, as a remake, the movie fails to hold the appeal of the original. However, the movie warrants a watch for the excellent cinematography and well-thought-out action scenes which are a refreshing change of pace from the usual fare. While not as good as the original, and guilty of being unable to fully grasp the depth of its own central mystery (which perhaps could have benefited from an updated look at its resolution in the 2022 remake), there is enough for the audience to enjoy along the runtime.

Director: Mahesh Surapaneni

Cast: Sudheer Babu, Srikanth Meka