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Movie Review: WAR

Banner: Yash Raj Films

Producer: Aditya Chopra

Director: Siddharth Anand

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, Vaani Kapoor, Ashutosh Rana, Anupriya Goenka, Dipannita Sharma Atwal

Writers: Aditya Chopra (Story), Siddharth Anand (Story & Screenplay), Shridhar Raghavan (Screenplay), Abbas Tyrewala (Dialogue)

Music: Vishal-Shekhar

You do not watch Siddharth Anand’s WAR, you experience it. The action-thriller redefines the genre and is quite the answer to the West as far as the treatment and the aesthetics are concerned. Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff’s jugalbandi, be it in dance or combat, death-defying stunts, an incredible helicopter fight and picturesque locations sums up WAR in just a few words. It is all things cool, slick and stylish.

The film begins with Kabir, a senior and credible but now rogue spy at an Indian intelligence agency, ambushing and shooting down a senior analyst named VK Naidu under the pretext of killing Fareed Haqqani, a notorious terrorist and ‘jihad salesman’. A few scenes later, enters Khalid, an earnest employee of the espionage system who wants to be mentored by Kabir. Khalid’s father, Rehmani, was a traitor who committed atrocities on the Indian intelligence. After much deliberation, Kabir decides to mentor Khalid and their team flies off to Iraq to bring Basseer Haseeb, another terrorist and a shabby version of Khal Drogo from Game Of Thrones, down to his knees, so that they can reach out to Rizwan Ilyasi, India’s biggest threat. What happens thereafter and how a cat and mouse chase turns into a story of betrayal and gore forms the crux of the film. 

WAR is replete with twists and turns. But this is exactly where the gorgeous film, mounted on a massive production scale, goes slightly awry. The writers have penned a screenplay that lacks cliffhangers and is largely predictable. However, they have tried to incorporate ample edge-of-the-seat moments that do leave an impact because of Anand’s direction. Dialogue writer Abbas Tyrewala walks the tight rope diligently and prevents jingoism in a film like this that talks about love and sacrifice for the motherland a bunch of times.  

At 156 minutes, WAR might seem like a long saga. But thanks to editor Aarif Sheikh, the film is crisp. Even the lengthy action sequences such as Kabir and Khalid’s bike chase sequence in the narrow lanes of Portugal, a rare combat sequence inside a helicopter atop a glacier, a stylised car chase on a frozen lake in the Arctic Circle and the final fight between the protagonists in a Game Of Thrones’ Red Keep style lavish setting feel less. The way these scenes have been shot and incorporated in the film keeps you hooked throughout. WAR abounds in flashbacks and jump cuts and though they might prevent you from keeping a track on the flow of events, you will eventually be absorbed into the world, the lives and the times of Kabir and Khalid and you won’t complain. 

Music is one of the strongest links in any film helmed by Anand. And WAR is no exception. The makers have kept their focus solely on the narrative and have refrained from using too many songs that might disrupt the course of the story. There is Ghungroo, a catchy dance number which stays with you. This is a song that you will not mind revisiting several times. A special mention to cinematographer Benjamin Jasper, Anand and production designer Rajat Poddar and their vision! They up the oomph and the glam factor several notches with the song that is set in Italy. Jai jai shivshankar featuring two of the best dancers of our film industry is a treat for sore eyes. These song and dance sequences might not add much to the narrative but they sure are cherries atop the appetising cake that WAR is.  

But what wins the heart is the background score. When Kabir and Khalid are battling it out in all their glory, it is the background music that adds to the excitement and the drama and makes you root for more combat and chase sequences.

Jasper’s lens deserves a loud applause for making WAR an opulent cinematic experience. The aerial views of the colourful houses in Marrakech, the brown landscapes of Tikrit and the turquoise waters of Italy have been captured spectacularly. Kabir and Khalid’s slow-motion shots are captivating and give them a larger-than-life quality.  

What sets WAR apart from other action-thrillers is its never-seen-before-in-Bollywood stunts. With action directors Paul Jennings, Oh Sea Young, Parvez Shaikh and Franz Spilhauz spearheading the ship, we get to see Roshan and Shroff pushing the envelope and indulging in some jaw-dropping action sequences. 

WAR is high on aspiration and Dhoom-esque vibes. The protagonists are like phoenixes rising from ashes (blood, here). They can fly. They can survive TTX and knives passing through them. You might not be able to resonate with these larger-than-life heroes but you will find yourself clapping, hooting and rooting for them and here lies the success of the film. It can be defined as a rhapsody. It makes for an unusual and interesting fusion between true-blue Bollywood and Mission Impossible style shots and sequences. All action and spy thriller lovers, do not miss out on the opening credits. 

The film belongs to Roshan. His Kabir is unapologetic, charming and no nonsense and he plays him with aplomb. Shroff’s Khalid is earnest and he plays his part with honesty. It will not be wrong to say that this is his strongest performance till date. It is sheer joy to watch the duo perform and fight each other. Their chemistry is impressive and they deserve another film together. Vaani Kapoor as Naina plays her part well but has nothing much to do. Ashutosh Rana is good as usual but we wish his character had more to do. Anupriya Goenka delivers an impressive act. Dipannita Sharma Atwal in a cameo is wasted. 

Verdict: Blockbuster! 

Stars: ***1/2

 

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