12th Man

When the whole plot is very familiar, and you kind of know who could well be the killer, the filmmaking becomes tricky as the task is to engage the viewer till the end. 12th Man, the new Jeethu Joseph film, manages to be a watchable thriller only because of how it manages to catch the attention of its viewer after dragging the story for almost an hour. This Murder on the Orient Express + Perfect Strangers-inspired plot is never a complete thrill ride. But the Agatha Christie format still has a charm that can make you sit through this Mohanlal starter.

SPOILER ALERT! A group of friends and their partners are staying in a resort for a bachelor party. An unknown man bumps into the party who was kind of spoiling the party’s mood. At one point, the friends decided to play a game to spice up things, but unfortunately, that led to many revelations. And the same night, one of the friends dies. Whether that death was a murder or suicide is the mystery that the 12th Man is trying to resolve.

From the trailer itself, it is pretty clear that it is this single location thriller where a mystery gets resolved over a night’s time. Mohanlal’s character, who happens to be a suspended police officer, unofficially takes charge of the investigation. From the partner of the person who died to the other friends, the investigation questioned everyone in that resort. If you look at the film, the investigation by Chandrashekhar practically destroys nearly all the relationships, and there will be an obvious question of whether that much collateral damage was necessary. It is in such areas, 12th Man feels a bit overblown and stretched out.

As the drunkard, Mohanlal was way too animated, and I even felt whether, at a later stage, Jeethu Joesph would make this drunkard act some kind of cover. His usual charm favors the film when he becomes the detective. Among the supporting actors, my favorite was Chandunath, who reduced the stiffness in writing and made his character a lot more natural. Both Unni Mukundan and Rahul Madhav were a bit too loud. Other cast members, including Sshivada, Saiju Kurup, Leona Lishoy, Anu Mohan, Anu Sithara, Anusree, Aditi Ravi, and Priyanka, were fine in their respective roles.

Like all his other thrillers, Jeethu Joseph takes ample time to reach the defining moment, and the events they have created to get to that point stand out. But that second-half gear shifting happens in 12th Man too. While most of his other thrillers had a wow factor in the revealings that happen, 12th Man is missing it. If you belong to the age group of the characters in the movie, some of the relationship dynamics will definitely feel relatable. Jeethu Joseph has a soft corner towards the usage of visual effects, and most of the time, it used to look really bad (Remember the “he is out there” shot from Memories?). But in the case of 12th Man, I found the usage of visual effects to blend the flashback portions with the present time really seamless.

Daily soaps like dialogues, clunky melodrama, etc., are usual elements in Jeethu Joseph’s films that he usually overcomes with the help of solid twists and surprises in the last quarter of the film. In the case of 12th Man, there isn’t much of a shock in knowing who the culprit is since we have already short-listed the possible candidates. 12th Man is an uneven thriller that manages to land smoothly.

Final Thoughts

In 12th Man, there isn't much of a shock in knowing who the culprit is since we have already short-listed the possible candidates. 12th Man is an uneven thriller that manages to land smoothly.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.