Movie Review: Action Jackson

December 5, 2014

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

There’s a scene in the rock music mock documentary “This Is Spinal Tap” in which Christopher Guest, playing the brainless guitarist Nigel Tufnel, shows off his amps to a documentary filmmaker. One special amp, he says, is so loud that its dials don’t just go up to 10, they go to 11.

Director Prabhudheva’s new film, “Action Jackson” is the one that goes to 11, and proves that loud is not the complement of good.

Prabhudheva’s last film “R…Rajkumar” was misogynistic, offensive and a perfect prototype of what Bollywood considers a “masala entertainer”. But in the scheme of things, it was a 10. Now he has found a new amp. It is one of those films that take the romance-action-comedy formula and pushes it so many notches higher that you can’t hear yourself think over the cacophony on screen.

People shove swords into other people, girls are equated to commodities and women gyrate in the most suggestive ways to a song called “You’re my gangster baby”. Oh, and this is a UA-rated film. It shouldn’t be.

The heroes of this sordid tale are lookalikes Vishy and Jai, played by Ajay Devgn. Vishy is a lowly Mumbai gangster while Jai is the right-hand man of a don in Bangkok. When the don’s sister (Manasvi Mamgai in a role that should earn her every single bad acting award) takes a fancy to the already committed Jai, he decides to run away.

This is where the oldest Bollywood script comes into play – Vishy and Jai swap places, and even more blood and gore ensues. Of course, how can a movie be just about the killing? So, in the middle of all the violence, there are songs accompanied by badly choreographed dance sequences. Surprising for a movie made by Prabhudheva, who is known for his slick dance moves.

There is a scene where Jai explains to Vishy’s girlfriend Khushi (Sonakshi Sinha) about the circumstances in which his lookalike had to take his place. It is supposed to be a somber scene, and a reminder to Khushi about the danger faced by the love of her life. Instead, she turns away from the screen, flutters her eyelashes and says: “I really miss him”. And then, we cut to a ten-minute song titled “Chichora piya”, which roughly translates to “Naughty lover”.

Prabhudheva has no use for his female characters except as sex objects. Women are either meant to be protected, or portrayed as obsessive psychopaths who will do anything to get their man.

With “Action Jackson”, Bollywood’s masala entertainer just got uglier and louder, and, if past audience reactions are anything to go by, is well on its way to box office glory.

(Editing by Robert MacMillan and David Lalmalsawma; Follow Shilpa on Twitter at @shilpajay, Robert@bobbymacReports and David @davidlms25 | This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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