Review: Kollywood blockbuster '2.0' bogged down by half-baked plot; Amy Jackson is saving grace

Marcus Goh
Contributor
PHOTO: Youtube/Dharma Productions

2.0 has been lauded for months as the most expensive Indian film ever produced, clocking in at a budget of US$75 million. The action movie is a loose sequel to 2010’s sci-fi thriller Enthiran, which introduced us to the super robot Chitti (Rajinikanth), which had to be decommissioned by the end of the film. In 2.0, Chitti must be reactivated to save the world from the threat of Pakshi Rajan (Akshay Rajan), who can control mobile phones (but mysteriously, not other types of technology).

PHOTO: Youtube/Dharma Productions

Much of the budget went towards the special effects, which involved special effects company Legacy Effects. They’re known for their work on many Hollywood blockbusters like The Avengers, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Pacific Rim — making them the perfect company to work on this science fiction adventure. The ambitious scope of their digital effects is clear, with gigantic crows made up of mobile phones, entire rooms filled with flashing mobile phones, and animated mobile phones.

PHOTO: Youtube/Dharma Productions

The digital effects pale in comparison to the practical effects (costumes, sets, and pyrotechnics), which are on par with Hollywood movies. However, the copious usage of digital effects means that the SFX is of varying quality throughout the film. The action sequences are well-rendered and visualised, but the seams show in some of the more dramatic (and less action-packed scenes). When the mobile phones attack their owners, the digital effects aren’t completely convincing.

You can guess the theme of the story by now — it’s a parable against the modern day over-reliance on mobile technology. The story starts strong, with a heaping dose of mystery and intrigue. It goes into a stern warning about the dangers of mobile phones, before the action starts proper and the chaos of the film begins. It gives us many promising storylines that hint at a greater, dramatic reveal.

PHOTO: Youtube/Dharma Productions

However, the narrative screeches to a halt halfway during the film, when the main villain is introduced. Somehow, everyone knows who Pakshi Rajan is… except the viewers, who then need to be treated to a half-hour origin story for the bird-themed bad guy. This marks a turning point in the story, because most of the plot threads started in the first half are forgotten in the second half in favour of adrenaline-pumping battles and set pieces, where Chitti faces off against Pakshi Rajan in various Power Ranger-esque ways. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just that it’s a noticeable tonal shift in the film.

PHOTO: Youtube/Dharma Productions

The true highlight of 2.0, though, is female lead Nila (Amy Jackson). Supergirl fans will recognise her as the actress playing Imra/Saturn Girl in Season 3. Here, she plays the female android counterpart of Chitti, and she is a much less grating character than the robot superhero of the film. In fact, it’s Nila who saves the day more than once, dutifully rescuing Dr Vaseegaran (also played by Rajinikanth) and Chitti when the need calls for it, thus allowing the two male characters to defeat the bad guy when the time calls for it. She’s the breath of fresh air in a testosterone-driven film, delivering witticisms without trying to hog the scene.

2.0 would probably have been a better story if the film focused on Nila and her struggles, rather than contriving ways to revive Chitti and providing an elaborate backstory for Pakshi Rajan (which doesn’t really make you empathise with him). If they ever make a sequel to 2.0 that shines the spotlight on Nila, that’ll truly be a 3.0 worth watching.

PHOTO: Youtube/Dharma Productions

Should you watch this at weekday movie prices? Sure.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? If you’re a Rajinikanth or Amy Jackson fan.

Score: 3.2/5

Secret ending?  Yes, after the scene during the credits. 

Running time: 147 minutes

PHOTO: Youtube/Dharma Productions

2.0 is an Indian science fiction action film that is a sequel to 2010’s Enthiran. It screens in cinemas in both its original Tamil language form, and a Hindi language dub.

2.0 sees the return of Enthiran’s super android Chitti, who is called upon to face a mysterious force that has captured mobile phones. He is joined by super android Nila, but the two of them may not be powerful enough to face the combined power of all the mobile technology in India.

2.0 is directed and written by Shankar. It stars Rajinikanth (Dr Vaseegaran, Chitti), Akshay Kumar (Pakshi Rajan), and Amy Jackson (Nila), Sudhanshu Pandey (Dhinendra Bohra), and Adil Hussain (Home Minister Vijay Kumar). It is rated PG13.

PHOTO: Youtube/Dharma Productions

Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter, having written for popular shows like “Lion Mums”,  “Crimewatch”, “Code of Law”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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