1) ‘Pattas’ is one of those films you wished you had watched without watching the trailer. Besides going a step too far to reveal most of the film’s central plotline, it also gives the viewer an overwhelming sense of déjà vu, as though you’ve seen all this before.
2) This feeling is further multiplied when we realise that what we’re watching is perhaps the thousandth iteration of the ‘sambhar saadham’ of masala film storylines, with a revenge angle that is even more obvious. Also, it’s not really too healthy when the film gives you serious Baahubali vibes, half an hour into it.
3) But what gives this film some sort of a distinction is the martial arts angle it takes up towards the second half. Like some of the Jean Claude Van Damme films of the 90s, the focus isn’t really on narrating a particularly moving story. It’s more about the fight scenes and how they’re staged, taking away from what seems like a Pepsi vs Paanagam debate in the homegrown marital art form of Adi Murai getting pitted against foreign, newer forms such as Karate and MMA.
4) And that really is the film’s main highlight. The fight scenes set across two timelines appear quite different from what we usually see in our films, and the added context of a competition with an interest in the ‘art’ in martial arts, really give these scenes an edge.
5) But the film takes a really long time to get here. The first half is mostly a series of fillers, which include some banal comedy scenes, a half-baked love angle (or whatever that was) and an extremely predictable setup.
6) But each time you start to disengage, there’s a masala moment here and a fight scene there to lift things a bit. This includes a cleverly placed photograph and a very innovative use of a projector.
7) Sneha walks away with some of the film’s best moments and punchlines. But the same cannot be said about the film’s main villain, who gets a lot of screentime, without it translating to a big impact, making it the second negative character to disappoint this week.
8) Dhanush too doesn’t get too much to work with in terms of performance, but he more than makes up for this with the fights. Given the man’s Bruce Lee-like anatomy, fights like the ones in Pattas feel and look better than what he’s usually asked to do in action scenes.
9) Vivek-Mervin’s music too helps, adding life to even to seemingly ordinary moments. The placement of the album’s best ‘Morattu Tamizhan Da’ really lifts the mood as it begins to dip.
10) The ending too is particularly underwhelming; it feels too rushed to the point where everything is a blur. Pattas works best as a series of interesting fight scenes featuring a martial arts form that needs our attention. But as a plain masala film, it feels too bland for a festival.