: ADGP Mathew Manjooran, returns to work after a seven-month sabbatical, only to take voluntary retirement. His last day has him investigating a case involving triple murder, including a police officer. Soon a pattern emerges and each clue also links Mathew. How is the veteran police officer tied to the murders and who is the real villain?
: Towards the end of Villain, a heated dialogue between its lead characters Mathew Manjooran (Mohanlal) and Sakthivel (Vishal) rages on. The five-minute scene touches upon dictatorship, vigilantism, taking law into one's own hards, injustice, hate and love. The narrative of director B Unnikrishnan's latest investigative thriller is sort of like the dialogue - it tries too many things, ultimately leaving the viewer disconnected.
The film begins with a triple murder while not revealing the ones behind it. Enter, its protagonist ADGP Mathew, who returns to work after seven-month sabbatical he took to cope with a personal tragedy, only to take voluntary retirement. His last day has him investigating the murder case as a token to his superior officer.
However, as the case drags on, Mathew's expertise as an astute sleuth is called upon and he starts connecting the dots. As a pattern emerges, Mathew finds himself as a common link. How is his past tied to the murders and who is the real villain? These questions take the plot forward.
Mohanlal as the veteran cop, who has endured pain but masks it, showcases his finesse as an actor. One of the strengths of the film is that it doesn't bank on his superstar image and rather focuses on the narrative, which at times is choppy at best. The viewer is sometimes presented Mathew's flashback, his current investigation, another officer's inference into his past and the murderer's next crime. The sloppy editing makes it a disjointed, less than engaging experience.
The first half of the movie takes its own sweet time establishing the characters and the plot - but the insipid pace is a deadening. While the director somewhat manages to salvage it in the second half with the killer's motive and the meeting between Mathew and Sakthivel, he doesn't quite use the opportunity to serve the audience any twists and rather lets the narrative slack.
Vishal does justice to his role but doesn't quite come up as a seeming match for Mohanlal's persona of a cop. Manju Warrier, Hansika, Raashi Khanna and Siddique play their parts well despite the limited screen time. The movie's BGM by Sushin Shyam adds to the tense scenes and the action sequences too are choreographed well.
Don't go expecting a mass entertainer as the movie isn't a pacy, atmospheric thriller like last year's Oppam but is a tad above Unnikrishnan's previous attempt Grandmaster.