It is the start of a week and I did have a leftover from weekend in the OTT space to cover. With that, I finished watching the new Tamil film Captain Miller which is streaming on Amazon Prime. The film marked an exciting collaboration between Dhanush and director Arun Matheswaran, something that I was looking forward to for a while. And while Dhanush needs no introduction, Arun Matheswaran made a name for himself with two incredibly gory films Rocky and Saani Kaayidham, both of which were met with applause for its storytelling and technical prowess. I remember watching Saani Kaayidham on Amazon Prime a couple of years ago, and was absolutely blown away by quite a few action set-pieces and sequences(who could forget the Matador Murders) that I continue to revisit to study the craft that may have go behind them. So when I did get to know that thevprolific director was collaborating with Dhanush who himself is a powerhouse of a talent, I was quite looking forward to the same. And while I unfortunately missed out on the theatrical release of the film, I had my eyes set on its OTT release wherein I finally got to watch Captain Miller last night without knowing what to expect from it. So then the question remains, does Captain Miller manage to impress, let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
Captain Miller follows the story of a former soldier of the British Indian army who would go to any length to protect his people from the British and other oppressors. The story here is fiery while incorporating elements of the caste divide that was prevalent in British ruled India(also parts of it today). The politics of the land coupled with bonkers of action is what essentially constitutes the story here which scores heavily with its treatment and how! The screenplay standing at a shade over 150 minutes tactfully focuses on the world building and the origin story of Captain Miller(a quirky namesake of a local superhero) while absolutely going all out with the action set-pieces.
The drama is cleverly divided into chapters that instantly irons out the moderate fragments in the screenplay. The non-linear narrative that unfolds does take its time to blossom before completely blooming into an action extravaganza! The drama opens with a prologue featuring an elderly woman narrating a story about the land that is a house to a priceless statue that holds a historical significance. Almost immediately, the drama shifts to the introduction of the protagonist who almost single handedly smokes a bandwagon of British soldiers in one of the best entries of the year so far. In that little action set-piece, the intentions of the maker is clear on a no holds bar action entertainer that doesn’t provide you any respite with respect to the gore. The drama pushes the timelines further wherein you are reintroduced to a younger version of the protagonist, an aspiring army soldier in his journey of becoming the most wanted decoit of the region.
The proceedings are engaging and engrossing with the conflict in the tale being in the form of challenges that the protagonist faces with respect to the British and a local king who heavily rules the area based on caste based politics. And it is here that the writers sprinkle exactly that, a little issue based on the caste based politics of the land that fuels the narrative ahead. Mind you, it is the treatment of the screenplay here that makes the drama layered with respect to the conflicts, that infuses some subtle twists and turns amidst some gory and mind blowing action set-pieces. The atrocities subjected to the people of the village act as a solid catalyst wherein your emotions are heavily tilted to the side of the protagonist.
The events leading up to the final act does include the subsequent uprising against the dual establishments and it is again the nature of the action set-pieces that elevates the drama to a different level. The writers also play well with the character traits of the protagonist who shows no signs of remorse in the course of the drama while continuing to be ruthless throughout, the justification of which is given in a flashback sequence that could perhaps have been a little better staged. The final act definitely plays to the galleries and I could totally imagine the theatres erupting as the group of the protagonist go full throttle in eliminating their biggest threat. Overall, the screenplay ticks the right boxes with respect to its treatment thereby making it a supremely engaging watch.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues do well in narrating the entire drama as a fable of sorts that adds unprecedented authenticity to the drama. The music is absolutely top notch and goes extremely well with the mood of the drama. Even better is the BGM and sound design that elevates the drama to a whole new level. The cinematography capturing some stunning action pieces tactfully integrates the right amount of slow-mos, drone shots and at times balancing the frames with both tight shots and wide shots that deconstruct and assemble multiple sequences effectively. And to sync music on the beats of the action was another prolific addition here. The editing is crisp and doesn’t stray the tension that is built up in multiple scenes. Director Arun Matheswaran does a brilliant job once again. I loved the conviction of the director who did not wish to be held back with the gore, while he also did not get carried away with all the style, paying attention to the drama unfolding as well by packing in the necessary emotions along the way. It is time we take Arun in the same breath as Sandeep Reddy Vanga for trying to sync the music with the action set-pieces. The direction is absolutely stunning here and shines through and through.
The performances are excellent by the ensemble cast here. Shivaraj Kumar and Sundeep Kishan elevate the drama with their star values particularly in the final action sequence. Jayaprakash as Rajathipathi, Pintu Pandu as Kaali, Kaali Venkat as Kumastha and Vinoth Kishan both manage to shine here. John Kokken as The Prince has an eccentric presence onscreen and he makes full use of it in a well enacted performance. Alexx O’Nell as Riley and Edward Sonnenblick as Wandy are worthy nemesis of the protagonist and both of them manage to leave a mark. Elango Kumaravel as Kannayya is first rate in a swell job done. Nivedithaa Sathish as Thaenu has a phenomenal screen presence and she makes good use of it here while also nailing her combat sequences. Priyanka Arul Mohan as Velmathi is excellent as well and I liked the little arc to her character that she pulled off with ease. Dhanush as Easa is incredibly good with his fieryband aggressive performance that he balances with a few stoic expressions. I liked how Dhanush also complimented the vision of the maker by going in with a no holds bar performance, and honestly that is what makes him a special performer. He was just brilliant here and elevated the mood of the drama with his aggressive streak.
Backed by solid performances and an incredible sound design, Captain Miller is a gory epic drama of epic proportions that scores heavily with its visuals and action set-pieces thereby making it a brilliant watch. Available on Amazon Prime.