In the initial portions of the second half of Jailer, you feel a bit skeptical about whether Nelson ruined a fab-looking swag fest with uninventive writing. But in the last half an hour of the movie, he bounces back strongly with a clever blend of over the top of heroics and a surprising drama bit. With Rajinikanth managing to pull off his style element even as an introverted character, Jailer is a delightful theater watch that works as an excellent fan service.
Tiger Muthuvel Pandian, a retired jailer, is our title protagonist. He lives a calm and happy family life, and his son Arjun is an ACP. His days are mostly with his grandkid; it is his sweet and comfortable place. That happy life gets disturbed when he realizes that his son has been murdered by a gang notorious for stealing God’s idols. When his wife accuses him of the reason for Arjun’s death, as she believes the righteousness Pandian instilled in Arjun led to his death, the Jailer in Pandian decides to seek revenge for the loss. What happens in that journey is what we witness in this Nelson Dilipkumar film.
The introverted central character and abundant black humor are something that we have seen in all the Nelson movies. Here also, we can see those same ingredients used. But what is exciting about Jailer is that Nelson is applying that formula to someone like Rajinikanth, known for being flamboyant and over the top. And it was really cool to see Rajinikanth doing his signature stuff in a more age-appropriate manner. And surprisingly enough, for a Rajini movie (not so surprising as a Nelson product), the amount of gruesome violence is on the higher side. And all of it had that signature quirkiness associated with Nelson’s making style.
As I already said, the movie’s second half has this minimal heist kind of scenario at one point, which almost feels like a side-track comedy. But if you are a fan of the dark and spoofy humor Nelson uses in his movies, it won’t be much of a problem. After that bumpy phase, the movie returns to its actual zone with an action sequence with a very precarious cinematic twist. Just when you think the movie is about to conclude, Nelson decides to put his hero in a moral conflict. And for an entertainer like Jailer, that conflict that eventually shapes the movie’s climax was a brave, creative choice. Nelson smartly protects that risky end with a superb dose of heroic sequences towards the end.
Vijay Karthik Kannan’s cinematography captures the moments most stylishly. The symmetric frames and depth of field increased conversation bits we see in Nelson movies are also there in Jailer. I liked the Western movie texture they gave for the convoy attack sequence. The logic around the Crown episode is not that great, but the placement of humor is such that you don’t bother much about the logic in that part of the story. Anirudh Ravichander’s music is nothing short of spectacular, and Hukum will be playing on a loop, at least for this day.
Rajinikanth, as the very restrained Muthuvel Pandian, was very refreshing to watch, and the transition happening through dark humor was also really fun to observe. The movie is, of course, celebrating his filmography, and Rajinikanth, with his palpable energy, delivers what the audience anticipated. Vinayakan, as Varman, the main antagonist, gets a fair amount of screen time, and I liked the fact they kept him as Malayali. Even though it wasn’t a layered character, through his performance, Vinayakan makes Varman a confident guy who can be a threat to someone like Pandian. Vasanth Ravi, as Arjun, gets a good role with minimal screen time. Ramya Krishnan as the wife, Yogi Babu as the comic relief, Jaffer Sadiq as the sidekick, etc., were all fine in their respective roles.
Tamannaah Bhatia is just there for the song; by the way, the Kaavaalaa song is not a burden for the film. Rewriting that entire Sunil chapter would be the only fix I would suggest to this movie. Shiva Rajkumar and Mohanlal have been given scenes that will please their fans, and the second entry of both these superstars, especially the one featuring Mohanlal, is something one shouldn’t miss on a big screen with a full house. Jackie Shroff was somewhat reduced to a “Mooppan” in totality.
Jailer is a mixture of swagger, dark humor, and drama. Yes, the humor is going out of control in some key areas, almost affecting the story’s focus. But the packaging tightens things smartly towards the end to give you that satisfying big-screen experience with a pinch of freshness.
The humor is going out of control in some key areas, almost affecting the story's focus. But the packaging tightens things smartly towards the end to give you that satisfying big-screen experience.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended