Mar 09 2017
Arivazhagan is a director who hasn’t hit the big league even after providing two good entertainers(Eeram, Vallinam) in two very different genres(horror, sports drama). Arun Vijay too has languished for years in the lower ranks of Tamil cinema without getting the all-important break that would enable him to climb up the rungs of stardom. The two have joined hands for Kuttram 23, a medical thriller. It turns out to be a mutually beneficial team-up since Arivazhagan gives us another solid entertainer in a different genre while Arun Vijay delivers a measured, restrained performance.
It is an exciting, suspenseful start to the movie when a priest is murdered in a church right after he gives confession to a woman who then goes missing. We soon learn that she was the wife of the head of a television channel and the case is assigned to Assistant Commissioner Vikram(Arun Vijay). From there the film moves briskly as he investigates the murder. Vikram gets too many easy breaks(a body is found soon, he gets a witness who saw the bad guys, etc.) but the suspense about the plot and some good action sequences(the best one though comes near the end when Vikram faces off against a bad guy inside a hotel room) keep the film moving consistently.
The film blends Vikram’s personal side into the story well. The first time his family is shown, we see his his sister-in-law(Abhinaya) enduring sharp barbs from Vikram’s mother about her inability to become a mom(this is brought up multiple times during the course of the film to seem like the film’s message). But we see later that this is not played out just for sentiments since she eventually plays an important part in the case. Similarly Thendral(Mahima Nambiar, who bears a resemblance to many actresses from an earlier era), is a witness becoming his love interest. With these aspects blended in, there are no awkward, pace-sapping detours for a romantic track or to showcase Vikram’s family.
But as with most other thrillers, this film is also unable to get away from the need to introduce some levity into the proceedings by casting Thambi Ramiah as a constable. While he doesn’t bring any big laughs, its still better than a separate comedy track and the director makes some amends by giving him one good scene where he manipulates the scene in an interrogation room after Vikram lets his emotions get the better of him.
The way the bad guy is brought in is awkward and the way Vikram makes the connection to identify him strains credulity. But to the director’s credit, he maintains the suspense about what exactly is happening for a really long time. Even after the link between the victims has been established, it is difficult to fully understand the villain’s motives and actions(the relevance of the 23 in the title is also revealed quite late in the proceedings). This is partially due to how weird those motives end up sounding when he finally spells them out but when it works in keeping us involved in the movie, the villain’s weird way of thinking is something that is easy to overlook.
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