Of late, Malayalam Films and Mammootty have been a deadly combination. The man at the age of 71 is perhaps in the form of his life, doing perhaps better work than any of his contemporaries. And it is indeed heartening to watch him collaborate with fabulous new talent that has resulted in one blockbuster after another. Be it Bheeshma Parvam, Rorschach or even the recently released film Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, he has just gone out there and enjoyed himself. The end result being that all of his films have found an audience!
So this weekend when his new film Christopher was out, I was really excited to see what it had to offer. One look at the maker B Unnikrishnan and I was worried. This is because his earlier work Aarattu with Mohanlal and not only tanked at the Box Office but it had met with a truckload of criticism. But given that the film Christopher had Mammootty at the helm of it and you do associate a certain kind of quality to his films, I went in with a lot of hope. Earlier, the trailer of the film had promised a popcorn entertainer with all the elements intact. So then does Christopher manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Christopher follows the story of a vigilante cop who has to take law into his own hands following heinous crime against women. The story here is average and has nothing new to offer. But often I have seen wafer thin plots backed by an interesting and cerebral screenplay and I was hoping for the same here. Unfortunately, that did not arrive! The screenplay standing at almost 150 minutes does make for a strenuous watch, something which is a rarity as far as Malayalam films go!
The drama opens with the introduction of the antagonist who presumably would have a face-off with the protagonist Christopher at a later point in the proceedings. Soon, the super-cop is introduced as he guns down a couple of men for a heinous crime against a couple of women. The theme is set and so is the stage. But to give you a perspective on how poorly written is the screenplay, there is a rape scene every 15 minutes during the first half. My point was that why did you have to repeat the same set of points which you already had while establishing its theme. I do agree that an investigation revolving around the protagonist would have similar instances from the past. But here was the writing test in trying to differentiate the instances while keeping the theme intact. And this is where the writing does fail. It is borderline problematic too as there was no way a cop could getaway with as many encounters, as the number of bodies start to pile up.
The proceedings are dull and uninteresting and one of the reasons being the shallow characterization of almost all characters. Even the protagonist was pretty one-dimensional with no unique trait to him. The women around him are even more poorly written, all with the same coat of paint. The entire first half had me distracted and how! Things get marginally better in the second half in the second half with the stakes being raised slightly more than the shallow first half. But the proceedings just do not allow the viewer to root for the protagonist or even remotely connect with him at any given point of time.
The drama is disjointed, trying to be smarter than it actually is. The links and subplots that are unleashed do not exude any sort of confidence. The dullness in the screenplay does continue right throughout wherein the one-dimensional drama does not introduce any twists and turns too. This in no way did feel like a Malayalam film and neither did it seem like a Mammootty film. I was surprised at the script selection here and how it did get approved in the first place. It was sketchy and quite drab despite people saying that this is way better than Aarattu. If you are comparing this film with a previous dud, you know you are in deep trouble, just like the screenplay that just had me holding my head during the dying minutes of the film. The final act is likewise underwhelming, thus summing up the screenplay with was plain average.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are intended to be massy but the impact is missing. The BGM is good playing perfectly with the slow-mo of the protagonist during a few action sequences but too loud at times. The cinematography is pretty good but it doesn’t quite gel well with the choppy editing. Director B Unnikrishnan misses the mark once again after Aarattu. His treatment is outdated and while he does try to play to the strengths of the protagonist, the latter may have had an upgrade already that makes this drama stale!
The performances are alright here. Dileesh Pothan as Abhilash and Shine Tom Chacko as George are good. Vinay Rai as Sitaram is decent but his character is quite poorly sketched for an antagonist that doesn’t send a shiver down the viewer’s spine. Vinitha Koshy as Susan, Aishwarya Lekshmi as Amina, Amala Paul as Sulekha and Sneha as Beena all have half-baked roles that only are introduced as catalysts. I strong female presence was the need of the hour here. Mammootty as Christopher also seems to be going through the motions here. While his stoic persona is impressive but this performance of his is nowhere near his recent works. This can best be described as a glitch in the matrix and he shall return better and stronger next time around.
Christopher is dull and outdated making it a rare Mammootty film that misses the mark. Available in a theatre near you.