Spyder Movie Review: It Brings The Thrill Back Into The Thriller!

Movie: Spyder

Starring: Mahesh Babu, S J Surya, Rakul Preet Singh

Written & Directed: A  R Murugadoss

Rating: ****(4 stars)

There is nothing like  a perfect spy thriller. But Spyder comes close.

It is svelte swanky and slick in a way that Telugu cinema is  lately learning to be.  Most  important of all, the leading man  none other than Mahesh Babu, arguably Andhra’s no.1 star,  plays it so cool, he is almost the antithesis  of  Prabhas’ sweaty  over-exertve performance  in Baahubali.

An  intrinsic  intelligence is applied to this film about Intelligence and espionage.Though there are wide passages of  unbelievable visual spectacle  and plot twists that coil and recoil through  a maze of unrepentant incredulity, there is nonetheless at the core of  Spyder a  yarn that induces an adrenaline rush in the audience while it rushes to  go where angels fear to tread.

Sypder, for all its overweening ambitions to keep the proceedings as  real as possible, never quite manages to avoid the outrageous. There is a  creeping tension enveloping the lengthy narrative. Though the  film is  2 ½ hours long the length never sits  uneasily on the  narrative.Though the language is Telugu and  I watched  it without subtitles , I found  no difficulty  in  following the plot.

Some passages  in the screenplay are sheer ingenuity masquerading as  masala fare. The post-intermission  episode where Mahesh Babuplaying a  government surveillance agent, takes the help of tv-addicted housewives to nab the terrorist, is a work of sheer genius.And the way the hero saves his mother and kid-brother from the sadistic  villain has to be seen to be believed.

Innovative writing in Indian cinema is   hard to come by. One that synthesizes thrills with a certain sobriety so effectively is rare.Murugadoss’ writing is  always ahead  of  his (considerable) skills  as a  director.And that’s a good thing. While he lets MaheshBabu’s star power do all the talking(even while the actor himself remains  distractingly quiet through most of the mayhem) the director leaves nothing to chance.

There is  no point of randomness in  the plot. Every episode is written with a precise  intent and pulverizing purpose. Consequently  the storytelling let loose a cannon  that blows  the screen apart.

The plot’s construct is controlled measured and  kinetic. The narrative takes time to build itself up into a frenzy  of excitement.We are introduced to Mahesh Babu’s Shiva  almost as a  boring whitecollar  government  officer determined to save distressed lives.

“I am no Superman  or Spiderman,” Shiva tells his friend  and then proceeds with intense irony to peak the pique,  as Shiva  take on  a psychopath who has a back story that tells us with disturbing directness that  the psychopath loves to  kill for the  fun of it.

The climax in a collapsing multi-storeyed hospital  is  shot with an eye  for cataclysmic  kicks.Cinematographer Santosh Sivan shoots the action sequences ,replete with collapsing  floors and walls and entire streets being mowed down by a deadly boulder, with the glee one saw in the Hollywood disaster films of yore.  Editor Sreekar Prasad leaves no room for humbug in this tightly-wound tale of the treacherous and  the taut.

But  I wish the song-breaks had been done away. They are  distracting in a medieval show of musical freedom.Also, Rakul Preet Singh playing the female lead is used almost like a comic sidekick to the hero, the way Sonakshi Sinha was  used my Murugadoss in  Holiday.  Either he makes the heroine the  hero  of  the  film, as he did in Akiraor he just uses her as a prop. Is there no middle ground for a  more balanced gender equation?

The crux and the crisis of the plot converge on Mahesh Babu and the antagonist played by Suriya. One  is understated almost to the point of showing no emotion. The  other lets it all hang out. They make quite a pair , the yin and the yang whose action speaks far  louder than their words.

Oh  yes, there is a delectable tongue-in-cheek homage to Murugadoss’s  Ghajini which is shown being screened in  a theatre while Mahesh Babu searches for a  character who helps piece the villain’s life together.

The  more we explore the anatomy of violence in cinema the more it appears to the same.

Murugadoss takes a familiar bad-guy-good-guy plot and converts it into a compelling cat-and-mouse game shot in colours and  falvoursthat suggest life in times of impending death.

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