BEAST (2022)

Vijay as Veera
  • Release Date: 13/04/2022
  • Cast: Vijay, Pooja Hegde, Selvaraghavan, Yogi Babu, VTV Ganesh
  • Director: Nelson Dilipkumar

Beast is unforgivably bad and even the mighty Vijay can’t make it a worthwhile watch

— Ambar Chatterjee

Veera Raghavan (Vijay) is a special operative working for the R&AW who witnesses the death of a child during a covert mission that changes his life forever. He gives up his job and is haunted by the memories of the girl who he couldn’t save. Desperate, he turns to a psychiatrist for help who takes him to a party to help him mingle with pretty girls and get over his pain. Veera meets Preethi (Pooja Hegde) at the party who immediately develops an interest in him. She asks him to join her company so that the two could spend some time together and gauge if they were well suited to be with each other. Veera joins her security company and lands up in the East Coast Mall on a day when the Mall is attacked and hijacked by a ruthless group of terrorists. The terrorists demand the release of their nefarious leader in exchange for the lives of the people in the mall. As R&AW begins its negotiation with the terrorists, their chief negotiator, played by Selvaraghavan realizes that Veera is in the mall and could be used as an asset to neutralize the terrorists. What happens next forms the crux of the narrative.

I was exceedingly frustrated by how terrible Beast turned out to be. There is very little in terms of redeeming quality in the film and that was almost baffling for me considering the amount of talent involved in the making of the film. The film begins with an interesting action set piece but quickly spirals into an unbearably boring affair as we see Veera deal with something as serious as mental trauma with a surprisingly funny tone and comic undercurrents. The entire sequence that documents the first meeting of Veera with Preethi and how the two strike a bond felt so odd, caricaturish, and straight out annoying that it undermined everything that the sequence could have led to. This not only destroys the credibility of the film within the first fifteen minutes of its runtime but also tells the audiences to not take anything about it seriously.

The success of a film of this nature is dependent a lot on the success of action sequences and I expected it to enthrall me with a healthy dose of action and style. While the film is high on style and presents its leading man in the most flattering ways possible, the action is barely there and nothing that we have not seen before. I don’t understand why people are going so ga ga about the action of the film as there are hardly any substantial action sequences apart from a few set pieces that are so few and so far apart that I felt as if I was watching a comedy instead of an actioner that depended on its generous dose heightened hyper-violence.

The ensemble cast of the film

Every character in the film was so annoying that there were moments when I felt like walking out of the film simply because of the verbal onslaught that some of these characters unleashed on the audience. Selvaraghavan as the chief negotiator for R@AW and VTV Ganesh as the owner of the security company that Veera works for are the worst culprits. Both these actors are so over the top and their dialogues so pathetic that after a while I questioned the intellect of the director and the sanity of the entire writing team in giving these two boring, annoying, and shallow characters so much screen time and so much dialogue. One also has to take into consideration the extremely poor dubbing of the film that works as the final nail in the coffin of an already fledgling vehicle.

It is not just these two characters. Every actor except Vijay constantly hams and mouths lines that either border on being cringe-worthy or are so mindless that it makes you question the sanity of the writers in writing such lines for the characters. One may call this digging too much into a masala mass entertainer but I beg to differ for the simple reason that even masala entertainers have to make sense and the proceedings have to be propelled either by a strong story and screenplay or an undercurrent of heightened emotions that are a result of the escalating stakes of the protagonists and the antagonists in the story.

Speaking of the antagonists, the film has two of the worst antagonists that the writer could conjure up and pit against a marauding character like that of Veera. There isn’t a single sequence in the film where the antagonists seriously threaten the protagonist and this proves to be the biggest reason for the complete lack of tension and thrill in a film that was supposed to be a thriller in the first place. It also doesn’t help the matter that the antagonists do nothing that threatens the safety of the hostages and atleast one of them is more of a comic relief than a villain. My friend sitting next to me asked why the leader of the terrorist was behaving so sweetly and was not killing people right, left, and center to strike fear in the hearts of the hostages who were shown nagging constantly. I didn’t have an answer to that question.

Vijay as Veera

How Veera goes about his work of saving the hostages was laughable and didn’t have even a semblance of believability or encouraged suspension of disbelief. The film never rises above its mediocrity to encourage the viewers to accept the more over-the-top aspects of it as it from the very beginning never took itself or its characters seriously. The film’s runtime only piles on as it jumps between an awkward and irritating romance involving Vijay and Pooja, unnecessary and unfunny comic gags, and frustrating exchanges between characters that result in nothing.

Vijay was the only saving grace for the film in terms of the characters as he was in his elements and effortlessly carried his swag throughout the film leading to atleast a few moments that either incited hooting and cheering or made the audiences giggle. Pooja Hegde is so sweet that she might give you diabetes but her character is so poorly envisioned and written here that no amount of her charm and enamoring screen presence can uplift her character from the depths of mediocrity.

The film is shot using the latest large format 8k camera rig that was supposed to be instrumental in shooting racy action sequences with the kind of quality and resolution that was unheard of before. Sadly the action sequences, while very stylized and pretty to look at had absolutely no physicality or impact. As mentioned earlier, it is also a fact that there were very few and too far apart. The background score of the film by Anirudh was pulsating as is the case with almost all Anirudh musicals and left nothing to complain about. The direction by Nelson is all over the place and it was one of the most shocking aspects of the film. I never expected Nelson to fail this miserably at directing a bankable star like Vijay when he had earlier accomplished wonders with much lesser stars. How could he not see how terrible the script was and how could he ok what was put out as the end result are my biggest gripes with him. Save yourselves from this mess and invest your time on something better even if it is on OTT. Pada and Bheeshma Parvam are much better films in terms of entertainment and cinematic quality than Beast can ever aspire to be.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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