Vijay’s last few action movies have also served as overstuffed showcases for the chipmunk-cheeked leading man. Vijay (“Beast,” “Varisu”), a former child actor, still doesn’t have much range, but he doesn’t really need to. He’s an action star, and he looks good whenever he’s dispatching scads of heavies with his feet, fists, and various mallets and blades. (Action choreographer/stunt coordinator duo Abumani and Arivumani are credited with planning the movie’s “Action” under their “Anbariv” stage name.)
Vijay looks less at ease whenever he tries to make a multidimensional character out of cafe owner/animal rescuer Parthiban, though his discomfort only adds tension to his character’s identity crisis. Reteaming with “Master” writer/director Lokesh Kanagaraj, Vijay once again asserts his all-utility qualifications: he can wrestle a computer-generated hyena into submission, lead a warehouse full of extras in a (mostly fine) dance number, and even punch drug dealer Antony Das (Sanjay Dutt) through the air and into a Land Rover.
Vijay’s drive to affect any mood, style, or pose isn’t unusual for such a popular and charismatic marquee topper. Still, it is striking to see Vijay, still eternally youthful despite his fastidiously stylized beard’s skunk streaks, play a character who protests this much whenever he’s confronted with his killer reputation. There’s even an anthemic song that, in a couple of scenes, suggests that “Mr. Leo Das is a badass.” So, who does Vijay think he’s fooling?
Parthiban, thankfully, doesn’t need to be believable as anything other than a pretext for melodramatic fireworks. In character, Vijay appears convincing enough as a stern but loving dad to pouty pre-teen Mathi (Iyal) and polite adolescent Siddharth (Mathew Thomas), as well as a doting but paternal husband to Sathya (Trisha). Some incidental details suggest that, in the town of Theog, Parthiban has a reputation as “an ordinary person, yeah, just a peace lovin’ soul,” as one song goes. Vijay’s still more convincing when he’s inexplicably—but efficiently!—dispatching wave after wave of violent baddies, all of whom either assume Parthiban’s actually Leo Das, Antony’s estranged son, or simply have no clue who they’re dealing with.