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DIRECTOR: Kabir Khan
STARRING: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sabyasachi Chakabarty
RATING: 2.5 stars
26/11 is one of the darkest dates in Indian history. Phantom rightly states that the broken window shields of the five-star hotels could be fixed, the bullet marks be cleaned but one cannot undo the scars terrorism leaves behind on the minds and hearts of people.
Kabir Khan's Phantom is not only based on S Hussain Zaidi's Mumbai Avengers, it also shares the sentiments of A Wednesday and has its texture deeply rooted in the likes of D Day and Baby!
The film is India's unapologetic, eye-for-an-eye answer to 26/11 attacks. Hence, ex-army officer Daniyal Khan (Saif-I-badly-need-a-hit-Ali Khan) is roped in as an undercover agent to nail all the masterminds behind 26/11 and kill them. It gets as ruthless as a common man's decision to wipe out all the 'cockroaches' in A Wednesday and almost as radical as the youth in Rang De Basanti. However, it lacks the conviction of both the films. Call it appropriate timing or a sense of prolonged resilience, former anti-terrorist films seemed to echo the common man's sentiments. Since Phantom is not a fresh take on extremism, it fails to leave an impact.
But it's not a bad film entirely. It offers you free trips from India to London to Beirut to Syria to Chicago to Jordan faster than you could flip an atlas. The first half of the film specifically is well paced. The scenes where Daniyal Khan kills the commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba are well written and well executed!
Alas, the second half suffers from lazy writing and lazier screenplay. The strategies behind the killings just don't seem convincing. We are talking about the masterminds behind some of the ruthless terrorist attacks and our dear hero goes mike shopping, toy-car remote shopping, fixes a bomb in the mike and lo, we are good to have a ‘blast’! Plan B? Chase him because Daniyal Khan’s middle name is Google Maps and he knows every nook and cranny of Pakistan! (Though those car chase sequences are slick as a sonnet and shot pretty well!)
And if that wasn’t enough, we have a half-baked love story that was so contrived that Katrina’s expressions started looking real!! Speaking of her, she borrows her name from one of the finest actors in the country! Yes, her name is Nawaz. No, that doesn’t help! She neither owns the lines, nor feels Nawaz’s pain. Her role in the whole let’s-kill-the-terrorist business is halfheartedly explained.
The supporting cast of the film, despite flat characters, packs in quite a cocker of a performance. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Denzil Smith and the nurse lady in Pakistan are genuinely good!!
I wish the film engaged me a bit more. 26/11 attacks enraged the entire nation. It made us feel vulnerable. A film that deals with it should stir my patriotic sentiments. I should be able to empathise. Alas, it felt like a decent film on anti-terrorism, something that I have already seen before.
WHAT THE RATINGS MEAN:
5 stars: Loved it. (This could make to top ten movies you must watch before you die!)
4 stars: Liked it. Recommend it. (This will help you sound intellectual and give you stuff to add at water cooler conversations.)
3 stars: Didn’t hurt. Watch it once.
2 stars: It put me to sleep. Watch it if you are an insomniac or a newly wedded couple. Winks!
1 star: Do I even need to explain this?