Recall actors who started as antagonists, but switched to positive characters effortlessly… Several decades ago, Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha portrayed negative roles at the onset of their respective careers. Much later, Shah Rukh Khan acted in a series of career-defining [grey] characters, before he got labeled as the romantic icon of Hindi cinema. Now Vidyut Jammwal, who made his debut with FORCE, undergoes an image makeover with COMMANDO. He's cast as the conventional Hindi film hero after acting in FORCE and a couple of South Indian films as 'villain'. He fights an army of baddies single-handedly in COMMANDO. Also romances the heroine in his second Hindi outing…
Karanvir Dogra [Vidyut Jammwal], a commando with the Indian Army, crashes into the Chinese territory. After being detained for a year in China and labeled an Indian spy, Karan escapes from the Chinese side and crosses into Himachal Pradesh. As Karan crosses into Punjab, India, he runs into Simrit [Pooja Chopra], who is escaping from Amrit aka AK47's [Jaideep Ahlawat] goons. Amrit wants to forcibly marry Simrit.
Karan bashes up the goons and in turn, invites the ire of Amrit. Together, Karan and Simrit escape into the jungles, when cornered by Amrit and his cronies. Thus begins a cat and mouse game between Amrit and Karan in the deep forests… Director Dilip Ghosh stays true to the essence of the premise and promises never-witnessed-before action in COMMANDO. Having said that, I wish to add that COMMANDO isn't a film that merely celebrates action or attempts to portray Vidyut's expertise in martial arts. Also integrated is a [subtle] love story, besides drama of course. In addition, the makers punctuate the mandatory songs to spice things up. But its biggest strength is, without an iota of doubt, the action sequences, especially the ones while on the run in the jungles.
COMMANDO attempts to encompass every stunt possible to entice the Indian viewer, which Vidyut implements as dexterously and effortlessly as Tony Jaa or Johnny Tri Nguyen. Nonetheless, films that focus on chase and action should stick to the core issue, hence the romance between the lead pair [in the first half of the film], the mandatory songs [especially the one filmed in Kutch, again the first hour] and the political interference [in the second hour] appear completely forced in the scheme of things. But these shortcomings are pardonable, to a large extent, for the reason that the action sequences keep you mesmerized largely.
The drama has its moments, especially when the cat and mouse game begins. The sequences in the jungle — which forms a major chunk of the movie — and the good versus bad altercations and confrontations are attention-grabbing. Also, the writer [Ritesh Shah] knows that the closing moments ought to give the viewer a high in a film of this genre and he serves it most convincingly. The concluding moments — when Vidyut is attacked by a South African slayer at the behest of Jaideep, right till Jaideep's elimination — leave you awe-struck.
The soundtrack [Mannan Shaah] is perfect, but amalgamating the songs with the chase sequences didn't really work for me. However, the raunchy song filmed in the second hour seems most appropriate vis-à-vis its placement. The DoP [Sejal Shah] is the behind-the-scene star of the enterprise. He captures the opaque terrain marvelously on celluloid. The stunts/action, as highlighted earlier, are top notch. The pacing too is swift, except when the songs show up. The background score [Prasad Sashte] captures the mood of the movie fruitfully when the characters embark on the chase.
COMMANDO clearly belongs to Vidyut and the liberty of watching him crushing everything and everyone in sight leaves you tongue-tied. By doing the stunts without a body double or cables, he fits into the definition of India's Next Gen action hero without a hitch. He's a fine actor too, although it's the action that takes precedence over histrionics here. Pooja Chopra couldn't have asked for a better launch pad. Sure, COMMANDO is, at heart, an action fare, but as the reels unfold, you realize her role in the film has shades that are essential for a Hindi film heroine and Pooja gives it her best shot. She's photogenic, but most significantly, comes across as a poised and self-assured actress. Jaideep Ahlawat delivers an unparalleled performance, yet again. He's one of the finest talents around and even though he plays the conventional baddie, he will be recalled in the same breath as the protagonist of the film. Darshan Jariwala is alright in a cameo.
On the whole, COMMANDO is vintage good versus evil saga in a strikingly new avatar. A high-voltage action fare that's racy, pulsating and packed with some adrenaline-pumping stunts. Watch it!