Michael movie review: Bold, beautiful but falls short of delivering actual thrills
By DECCAN CHRONICLE | Swathi Soren
Action movies are the easiest means of delivering a choreographed spectacle to a captive audience
Set in the mid-90s, ‘Michael’ begins “after the climax” as Swamy (Ayyappa Sharma) narrates the story of Michael to the people looking for him. Arriving in Bombay in the 1980s, Michael is a troubled, brooding young boy with a temper issue and a sordid past. It becomes clear that he doesn’t like to talk when he can just get the other guy to see things his way through his fists. It is his quest for vengeance that leads him to cross paths with Gurunath (Gautham Vasudev Menon), who takes him under his wing and after another fateful encounter where Michael (Sundeep Kishan) saves him from certain death yet again, raises him to a position of power by his side. Suspecting a former associate Rathan (Anish Kuruvilla) being one of those responsible for his attack, Gurunath sends Michael on a mission to find the absconding Rathan by staking out his daughter’s Theera’s (Divyansha Kaushik) house in Delhi. As Michael follows Theera, he falls in love with her despite all her cautioning him not to. This leads to a sequence of events that will ultimately lead to Michael taking charge of his own destiny and fighting for his love against all odds in this supercharged, adrenaline-driven gangster film.
Action movies are the easiest means of delivering a choreographed spectacle to a captive audience. It is, indeed, extremely difficult to get an action movie wrong. However, ‘Michael’ is a casualty of its own over-ambitiousness.
Inhabiting a strange intersection between ‘Sacred Games’, ‘RX100’ and ‘KGF’, this movie seems to borrow a little bit of what made each one of these films uniquely memorable.
Whether it is the heavy influence of Moosa’s storyline on Menon’s performance as the gangster Gurunath, or Theera’s honey trap for Michael, everything that happens on screen is in a manner reminiscent of its far superior inspirations.
Sundeep Kishan’s portrayal of the titular character does have a tone of subtlety to it, however, it does fall through the cracks occasionally. The strong, silent protagonist prone to outbursts of explosive rage works better as a character on paper than most of its execution on screen. However, to Sundeep Kishan’s credit, this happens mostly over the film’s many long drawn-out sequences that occur a little too frequently for anyone’s taste.
The movie’s breathtaking visuals are a wonderful blend of art direction, costume design, and masterful cinematography. Debuting with ‘Michael’ as a cinematographer, Kiran Koushik effortlessly brings grandeur to the big screen and for many reasons, the cinematography alone gives the audience a reason to hang on to the otherwise insipid story.
This means that ‘Michael’, at times, can seem like an extended montage at places. With so many scenes dedicated to building its sullen, tacit protagonist up, the movie spends most of its time featuring Sundeep Kishan brooding away listlessly at nothing in particular. All too aware of its own aesthetic appeal in these moments, it hangs too comfortably over glorified beauty shots of actors as well as its alluring sets. The music is nothing to write home about, but the background score truly shines. The theme has a punch to it, and effectively sets the tone of the movie.
The most unfortunate aspect of ‘Michael’, unfortunately, has to be the stock performances of its cast. By no means wooden, the glaring discrepancies in the synergy of performances show when the central and supporting cast refuse to share any manner of consistent chemistry on screen.
‘Michael’ is a genre movie trying too hard to look the part and unfortunately, it shows. While it may believe - even sincerely - that it is an homage to the action heroes of the norm; or that it is merely a repurposed vehicle for everything the audience desires to watch in an action movie, it ends up merely being a formula film that severely falls short of successfully emulating all the tropes it relies so heavily on to be taken seriously at all.
Director: Ranjit Jeyakodi
Cinematographer: Kiran Koushik
Cast: Sundeep Kishan, Divyansha Kaushik, Gautam Vasudev Menon