It is a Monday and the start of another lovely week but I do have a couple of leftovers from the weekend. First up, I finished watching the new Malayalam film RDX which is now streaming on Netflix. The film was trolled for its poster and trailer before its theatrically release, particularly because it was pitted against the Dulquer Salmaan starrer King Of Kotha, which was going to be the first choice of the moviegoers to begin with, on Onam. It was really gutsy of the makers to release it alongside King Of Kotha, but no one would have imagined on what would transpire over the next few days. As fate would have it, King Of Kotha began sinking because of its substandard writing. But, at the same time, RDX started rising out of nowhere, with appreciations starting to pour from all sections. While I did get a chance to just about sneak in King Of Kotha before it was taken out, I happened to miss out on the theatrical watch of RDX, and since then, I had my eyes on its OTT release. And finally, I did get my chance last night to watch RDX. My anticipation around the film was massive(given the lull in the Malayalam Film Industry), does it manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
RDX follows the story of Robert, Dony and Xavier, all martial arts fighters, who unite after a significant event that transpires. The story is an explosive entertainer that takes you by surprise despite its non-novel idea. And it is the presentation here that allows the film to soar high while introducing a simmering layer of tension and anger in its narrative. The screenplay standing at almost 150 minutes is an out and out entertaining ride that has the right kind of emotions and aggression to balance the narrative. In fact, the film can also be looked upon as an origin ‘superhero(s)’ story too with its subtle comic book style references thrown in the narrative.
The drama begins on such a simmering note in the premise that unfolds. It was a typical Malayalam screenplay template of just the world building told through the conversations between characters, while having no real reference of the baggage that they have been carrying upto that point. The setting is a feast at the local church which accounts for a festive vibe but the conversations between characters paint a slightly different picture. There is a simmering tension running through the premise as the writers tactfully introduce a few of the principal characters including one of the protagonist. A supposed stray incident is the trigger point of the simmering aggression that literally bursts in your face while accounting for a promising opening act. In fact, the events that follow are haunting and will make your blood boil as well which means the emotional notes were struck pitch perfectly while setting up the rest of the drama to follow.
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing particularly in the extended flashback, when at that point in the film you are aware of a prevalent tiff between the characters. The three principal protagonists are introduced in grand fashion while keeping one eye on the aggression quotient that is not compromised at any given point. Right through the flashback, the multiple brawls lay the foundation for the drama while also giving an account of the equation that the three protagonists share with each other. This also includes their respective love angles that fuel the narrative further, but the emotional bond with all characters is there given the terrifying opening sequence that was laid out to the viewers. A major turning point at the halfway mark does result in an exciting action sequence at the halfway mark, thus setting up things perfectly for the second hour.
The second hour is where Malayalam films had been getting repetitive with their writing material this year. But that is not the case with RDX that transforms the narrative in a cerebral yet indulgent garbe without letting go of the inherent aggression that was prevalent in the drama. There is an essence of subtle humour and some comic book references that truly elevate the narrative. There are plenty of tense moments but because the emotional foundation was so strong, you end up rooting for the characters in multiple satisfying ‘hunting’ down sequences leading up to a fun-filled final act. Overall, the screenplay is explosive with traces of Thallumaala in terms of its tonality that guarantees a fun watch.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are massy but never over the top and almost sparingly used, instead opting for the action sequences to do most of the talking. The music is good but it is the BGM that heightens the drama at so many junctures. I can totally imagine the theatres going wild with cheers and whistles in the multiple slow motion entries and action sequences. Speaking of which, the action sequences would generally not work with so many jump cuts. But strangely, the makers pull off a heist wherein the action sequences despite the slow motion shots were entertaining and satisfying. The cinematography is top notch, the editing is crisp and sharp. Director Nahas Hidhayath in his debut outing delivers and how! There is a zany streak to his direction that is prevalent throughout. He doesn’t hold back in any action set pieces and that is where his conviction does lie in the narrative, to go all guns blazing. He does create such a strong emotional core that felt like a personal attack on our family, and this worked wonderfully well in the film’s narrative. The direction is stupendous here!
The performances are wonderfully fiery here by the ensemble cast. Sujith Shanker as Jaison and Arya Salim essaying the role of his wife are top notch despite a limited screentime. Midhun Venugopal as Faisal and Nishanth Sagar as Davis are an absolute treat to watch. Vishnu Agasthya as Paulson does play a menacing antagonist and a perfect nemesis to the three protagonists in a job well done. Maala Parvathi as Kunjamol is terrific. Mahima Nambiar as Mini looks pretty and has her moments to shine particularly in the fiery events leading up to the final act. Aima Sebastian as Simi is wonderful to watch. Baiju Santhosh as Roy and Babu Antony as Anthony are dependable and lend excellent support. The veteran Lal as Phillip is outstanding with his body language.
The show though belongs to the RDX trio of Robert, Dony and Xavier essayed by Shane Nigam, Antony Varghese and Neeraj Madhav respectively. There is a simmering aggression in each of their characters, just waiting to explode. But there is an inherent style which is unique to every character and they are outstanding to the core with their body language and mannerisms. Also they excel in combat sequences as well, ensuring that it is a fun watch for the viewers.
RDX is an explosive zany entertainer that goes bonkers with its action sequences. This is more like the Malayalam cinema that I know in the commercial space! Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended!