Director: Anandan MS
Chandru (Vishal), the armyman protagonist of Chakra, seems to know stuff. Just hours after a series of burglaries cripple the Chennai police force, our hero lands up in the city to help them out, just because his paati doesn’t pick his calls. A little later, he’s able to crack an important clue when he realises that the villains use a particular number as their password. This number is 00100, but apparently there’s a lot of meaning he can derive from this.
Even later, he cracks another code just by noticing what day it is. Far-fetched would be an understatement, because there’s nothing Chandru doesn’t already know. If the bad guy is to have a cup of coffee in the morning, chances are Chandru already knows how many spoons of sugar he will have it with.
It’s all a bit hazy after that. The hero is literally invincible, and you wonder what’s the point of writing situations and a nemesis that are a walk in the park for him. Of course, there is one small difference in Chakra. Ever since our man acted in Irumbu Thirai and Thupparivaalan, he likes to space out purely action outings with what you’d call mind games. Even in Chakra, the way an obstacle is overcome is mostly through his brain rather than the brawn. There’s no other way, because the crime is of the sophisticated variety.
A group of hackers steals data from a registry service provider to analyse everything — right from the number of people at home to how much money is kept there — to plan an elaborate network of robberies across the city. The theft itself isn’t the issue. Chandru gets involved in this only because one of the things that get stolen is an Ashok Chakra, conferred to acknowledge his father’s contribution to the country.
Chandru’s obviously emotionally attached to it, and the nature of this medal gives it more heft than the fact that the robbers took away money or hurt his grandmother. It even makes the case extremely personal, but the way he gets involved in the case makes the entire police force feel like a bunch of idiots. They have nothing to do except play a supporting role and offer assistance whenever he asks for it. For instance, in a scene set outside a police station, a man complains that his bike is getting stolen. The solution Chandru suggests to find it is perhaps on page 2 of every police officer’s Dummy’s Guide. Even so, the way he suggests this idea and the way they all spring to action makes it look he has reinvented the wheel. What is his suggestion? ‘Check the CCTV!’
There’s no point in writing a script that’s supposed to be cerebral if everything feels so basic at the end of the day. But this high horse posturing never stops. In a random scene that barely fits into the film, Chandru admonishes a youngster for picking on a poor, old security guard. Instead of quickly running through the advice to get back to the actual film, it suddenly becomes a full-fledged lecture on how youth seldom get involved when it comes to fighting the powers-that-be. Even corporates get a similar round of schooling, that too right in the middle of a crucial point in the film.
It’s not just the random asides; it’s the tonnes of exposition that gets to you. Even simple things are explained like the audience is a toddler. There’s only so much you can take of that. An actor like Shraddha Srinath gets nothing to do except posture like she’s tough, and even the big villain isn’t exactly the big twist the film makes it out to be. With evil step-moms and silly side plots, you wished Chakra had embraced its identity of being nothing more than a “dumb-action-movie.” With its posturing, wisecracks and tech-talk, it’s still just a dumb action movie, but dressed in a tweed jacket with elbow patches.