Director: A. Vinoth Kumar
Writer: Pon Parthiban
Cast: Vishal, Sunaina, Prabhu
You may find a hundred issues with Vishal’s new action movie Laththi but a shortage of ideas is certainly not one. Starting with the concept of him playing an ordinary constable, that too facing suspension, there are efforts in every stage to give you the feeling that you’re watching a clever cop movie. When we first meet constable Muruganathan (Vishal), he’s enjoying familial bliss, waking up early to kiss both his son and wife good morning. It’s the kind of obvious mirth that shouts the dangers that lay ahead for this family. He’s a cop after all, so you imagine that either his wife is going to get killed or that his son might get kidnapped, perhaps by a villain seeking revenge. But no, this is not that movie. Even the obvious comes in the form of a new idea and what this does is present us with an assembly line of plot points that are either a hit or a miss. This makes the film ridiculously incoherent, but at least they’re constantly trying.
I blame/thank Lokesh Kanagaraj for this departure from template action. So when Muruganathan’s son is thrown right back into action much later, we also get a ‘concept’ that is meant to add to the urgency. Instead of simply presenting the task of safely transporting this boy from place A to place B, the film gives him a breathing problem which requires that he gets his inhaler at the earliest. But when you choose to follow up a scene of a boy suffocating with that of timelapse that turns day into night, you sense that the film has no clue about what to do with that idea.
This is pretty much the same with what it tries with another staple from the Lokiverse. We’re fed with some information about how Muruganathan gains access to a room in which the police safeguard confiscated arms and ammunition. The screenplay detours into a sequence that shows Muruganathan stealing one major weapon after another to plant a series of traps to take on an entire army of bad guys, that too in an abandoned construction site. With each of these weapons coming into full force soon, the film even transforms briefly into a mini Home Alone. Yet we’re never meant to ask why this genius didn’t think of keeping so much as a shaving razor to himself in case things do not go according to his plan.
This is the kind of stuff that makes Laththi this year’s dumbest action movie and I genuinely mean that as a compliment. It’s unabashedly over-the-top, showing zero signs of remorse. The only thing left to do is to enjoy even as you force yourself to buy into farfetched concepts that include a water sprinkler made with two AK-47s (you need to see it to believe it).
When these ideas click into place, you can see how cool it must have looked in the writer’s head. There’s a fun five-minute stretch where these bad guys are trying to look for their enemy just by listening to their ringtones. Even the idea of a senior police officer using a subordinate for personal revenge has meat for a bigger idea in another film. But how much of these are just too much.
Take the villain for instance. In another kind of movie, there could have been a way to actually use his madness to great effect. In Laththi, this dude insists on wearing a yellow plastic bag on his head, not because he’s aspiring to one day become a Marvel-style supervillain. But apparently, there’s a small hole in that bag and he needs to peep through to ascertain the identity of a police officer who beat the hell out of him. There are films in which such a character might not be too out of place. But in the universe Laththi takes place in, it’s just a bit too jarring to keep staring at a man in boxers, casually walking shirtless with a manjapai on his head.
The loftiness continues even into its second half where almost the entire action is restricted to one building. Hundreds upon hundreds of henchmen keep coming after Muruganathan but they all appear so dumb that you’re surprised they were able to stay alive until this fight. The other plot points from earlier keep coming back and they always feel like conveniences, meant only to explain one of the many doubts we’ve been holding on to for hours. With a hilarious emotional outburst towards the end and an even funnier resolution to the issue that got him suspended in the first place, Laththi’s strongest blows are those dealt to our intellect.