An undercover cop is involved in an operation to make a most wanted gangster come out of hiding. Can he succeed amidst suspicion, betrayal and loss?
Even though there is a lot of action in it,
, is a battle of wits — a game of chess to be precise. Magilzh Thirumeni keeps reminding us this every now and then with visual nudges — a character is shown playing chess on the laptop, a character who is used by the hero is shown wearing a T-shirt that says 'I'm a pawn star', and the painting on the pier where the climax takes place is that of the white king you find on the chess board with the words King's Gambit below it.
The film revolves around Shiva, an undercover cop who is slowly winning the confidence of the J Company, a feared underground network in Goa. His target is Jothi, the boss, whose face is known only to a handful of his trusted lieutenants. Shiva plans to force Jothi to reveal his identity by stealing a huge shipment of coke and using Sharma, a corrupt cop-turned-gangster. However, Shiva's real identity — as Arul, a police officer — is discovered and now, Shiva must act fast to save himself and bring Jothi to justice.
takes a while to pick up, with the director taking his time to introduce the dozen or more major characters. But once we get the background info on the various gangs, cops and the moles on either side, we are drawn into the plot, which is intricately woven and manages to keep us on the edge of our seats. The pre-interval portions, especially, are quite tense and intense — Shiva's friend, an undercover cop working for Sharma gets caught and spills out Shiva's name to Jothi's underlings under torture; meanwhile, Shiva enters the gang's den unaware that he has been made out. His escape from a point of no escape is unconvincing but thrilling. In fact, there is an echo of this same setup in the climactic showdown where Shiva manages to escape from certain death at the hands of Jothi and his henchmen who have finally managed to discover his identity. There is not much room for humour in this serious story but the director manages to gives us one droll moment when a gangster whose China-made gun accidentally fired in his crotch blames it on the dosham incurred by his father who had shot Chinese soldiers in the war.
However, what the film suffers from is the tendency to spoon-feed the viewer. Quite a few scenes are just exposition, and the sole purpose of one character (Benjamin Vas played by OAK Sundar) is just to keep us abreast of the plot developments. The casting of familiar villain actors helps in quickly establishing their motives, but Anupama Kumar, who is either seen flustered or concerned, is miscast as the senior cop who runs Shiva's operation. Even Arya, who looks the part of an intrepid cop who is both brain and brawn, comes across as too casual for a person in life-threatening situations.
One also wonders why the director had to go for a tedious romantic track that just punctures the narrative tension. All it does is make Hansika play, once again, an immature character (who thinks she is an intellectual because she reads
50 Shades of Grey
), while offering Arya a chance to take off his shirt. The only saving grace is an interestingly shot song that shows the heroine consumed by lust and struggling with it. But, Maghilzh Thirumeni has a flair for staging tense sequences (his previous film,
, too, had some solid nail-biting moments) and that helps us look over the flaws.