Rajeev Masand

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Syria-ously?

 
 

Baaghi 3

Rating: 2

March 06, 2020

Cast: Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor, Ritesh Deshmukh, Ankita Lokhande, Vijay Varma, Jaideep Ahlawat, Jackie Shroff

Director: Ahmed Khan

Even by the abysmally low standards of the first two films in the franchise, Baaghi 3 is a shit show. It’s a film whose plot is so far removed from common sense and basic logic that you have to wonder what little regard the filmmakers must have for the audience.

Tiger Shroff, who is the star attraction of the Baaghi films, is in reliably good form, playing for the nth time a one-man-weapon-of-mass-destruction. At different points in the film he outruns helicopters that are on his tail, he lobs grenades at his enemies while dangling from a wire, and narrowly escapes being mowed down by oncoming tanks. Although there is some fun to be had watching him single-handedly take on an entire country, you can’t help thinking that a smarter director would have no trouble marrying Tiger’s sheer prowess in the action department with a script that knows how to better utilize it.

In the hands of Ahmed Khan, however, Baaghi 3 is a bloated mess. As many as five writers are credited with banging out the script, which stays largely faithful to the Tamil film of which it is an official remake. Tiger plays Ronnie, who has spent the bulk of his years protecting his timid elder brother Vikram (Ritesh Deshmukh) from bullies and all manner of harm.

 Vikram, who is a police officer, is dispatched to Syria on an assignment, where he is attacked and kidnapped by an Islamic terrorist organisation. When Ronnie shows up to save his sibling he unleashes such havoc it prompts the terror leader to enquire who is responsible for the upheaval: “America? Russia? Mossad?”

It’s a harebrained premise; there is zero understanding or sensitivity for the politics of the region. Accents are clunky and all over the place. Presumably the film is set in Syria for its ravaged landscape, although it has been shot in Serbia. Baaghi 3 is executed with such lack of self-awareness it doesn’t even cut it as one of those Chuck Norris-saves-the-world entertainers.

Actors like Vijay Varma and Jaideep Ahlawat are wasted in roles that do no justice to their talent. Ritesh Deshmukh cheerily hams it up as the mild-mannered, darpok older brother prone to calling out for his younger sibling each time he’s in trouble. Shraddha Kapoor strictly provides comic relief, then possibly as an afterthought on the part of the makers gets into action mode. To put it simply, none of the actors besides the film’s leading man leaves any mark.

Baaghi 3 is the Tiger Shroff show all the way, and the actor – frequently shirtless and bronzed – looks happy to do the heavy lifting. Despite the clunky script, he is utterly and entirely convincing even in the most preposterous action scenarios; yes even when he’s perched atop three crashed helicopters, preening satisfactorily. Tiger is all muscle neck down, and largely wooden up north. There’s not a lot of range or emotion on that face, and yet it’s hard not to appreciate the sheer artistry of what he does with the rest of that body.

Like the tattered shirt that barely hangs off his ripped frame, Baaghi 3 hangs by a thread off its leading man’s strong shoulders. Tiger is the only reason the film isn’t completely unwatchable. I’m going with a generous two out of five, strictly for the cub who deserves the kind of material that’ll let him grow into the wildcat he’s clearly poised to be.

(This review first aired on CNN News18)

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