Seeing something for the first time and seeing pretty much the same thing for the nth time has a significant difference. The multiple times you see it, the excitement gets reduced because your brain has already traveled in that trajectory. The fifth CBI film from K Madhu, SN Swamy, and Mammootty, CBI 5: The Brain, has underestimated its audience significantly. With too many convoluted distractions rather than possible theories eating up the screenplay, CBI 5: The Brain is a thriller that fails to create genuinely exciting moments.
The story is shown as a flashback story narrated by CBI Inspector Balagopal to a bunch of civil service candidates. It was a basket killing case where a minister, his doctor, and an investigating police officer got murdered. Under the leadership of Sethurama Iyer, how the CBI resolved this case where they were struggling to find solid evidence is what we are shown in the fifth installment.
The first film in the franchise that was released back in 1988 gave a new dimension to investigative thrillers in Malayalam cinema. It became a benchmark for filmmakers, and we saw the traits of Oru CBI Diary Kurippu getting repeated in many other films. After almost 34 years, the cinematic language has changed drastically, and the fresh elements back then have become cliches that got shelved.
The problem with CBI 5: The Brain is its inability to update the narrative from a craft perspective. I won’t even say they have recreated the same quality of the first film. In the first film, Devadas was a respectable competitor, while in this fifth installment, Satyadas is a comedian mimicking his father. There are patterns in presenting characters that are familiar to everyone, and if you repeat the same thing, the background score cue won’t make the audience clap or whistle.
Mammootty as the graceful Sethurama Iyer is effective. It seems like Iyer has become a bit lighter. With age, he has become a bit generous. Satyadas, played by Saikumar, was a caricature. Renji Panicker was a bit stiff as Balagopal. Mukesh, as Chacko doesn’t have much to do here. Asha Sharath was okay in her role, while Anoop Menon was a bit too eccentric in certain portions. In Trance and Irul, Soubin was somewhat a misfit, and the same applies to his role in CBI 5 as well. The only thing that felt appreciable on a creative level was how they gave space to Jagathy Sreekumar’s Vikram in this film, and it did put a smile on everyone’s face.
K Madhu’s attempt to make CBI look like an updated film frequently fails. In terms of cinematography, he has opted for this largely flat lighting, which feels a bit off for a thriller. The camera is swirling in a scene where Sethurama Iyer arrives at the CBI office, and I wondered why it was so necessary. When it comes to the writing, the detailing through dialogues is kind of excessive, and the conversations all had that stiff and dramatic feel. And there are a lot of reaction shots by characters insignificant to the main plot, especially at the beginning of the film, that felt pointless. The original score by Shyam recreated by Jakes Bejoy still has enough in it to create goosebumps.
CBI 5: The Brain is a dull thriller that fails to satisfy its updated viewer. The movie ends with a possibility of a sequel with a character from this story. They have even made it clear that it will be “the first online murder.” Looking at how they have made this movie, I won’t blame anyone for being skeptical about the possible sequel.
With too many convoluted distractions rather than possible theories eating up the screenplay, CBI 5: The Brain is a thriller that fails to create genuinely exciting moments.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended