Leo (Tamil) is an interesting tale told violently

Thalapathy Vijay in Leo. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

 The much-awarded director, Lokesh Kanagaraj, has included this years’ biggest Tamil blockbuster as a part of his Lokesh Cinematic Universe. The story is interesting, and is adapted from a foreign graphic novel, A History of Violence.

Sadly, despite the rather convoluted yet gripping plot, a surfeit of violence makes the film, undoubtedly a massive hit down South, more a violent potboiler. Also, the erratic pace and the whopping illogical happenings seem more like typical South templates and tropes than anything else. To give just a small example, Parthiban’s café is nearly always sans customers or even significant staff, except when it is attacked!

This café is in Theog, Himachal Pradesh, and Parthiban is an orphan. He is now happily married to Sathya (Trisha) and has two kids and life is smooth. When a hyena escapes into the small town, Parhiban, who is also an animal rescuer (How? Not revealed!) shoots it with a tranquilizer gun and then adopts it. This news is publicized all over. Two criminal brothers, Antony Das (Sanjay Dutt) and Harold Das (Arjun), who run a huge tobacco empire elsewhere that is used as a cover for an even bigger trade in drugs, think he is Leo Das.

And who is Leo Das? Leo is the exact lookalike of Parthiban, who is Antony’s son and has rebelled when the superstitious Antony has decided to offer him as a human sacrifice (!!!) along with Leo’s sister Elisa (Madonna Sebastian) to further his business prospects. Leo, though shot by Antony, has set the drug and tobacco factory on fire after Harold has shot Elisa dead when the siblings decide to escape.

Antony visits Parthiban’s café and insists that he is Leo, and Leo should accept that he is not Prathiban. Parthiban has evidence from the orphanage and Sathya, who suspects him temporarily when Antony tells her that her husband is actually a mass murderer, is convinced that he is indeed Parthiban, and that Leo is merely someone who looks like him.

But a determined Antony kidnaps Parthiban’s son, Siddhu (Mathew Thomas) and Parthiban chases him, finally killing him. But Siddhu is not to be found. However, Harold calls and promises Siddhu’s return in exchange for his brother’s dead body. He is now convinced that Parthiban is not Leo. What happens next?

The script seems more concerned with violence, gore and blood-spilling towards the end, but the director-co-writer does offer a double-twist and the heavy probability of an interesting sequel co-starring Vijay with Kamal Haasan looms. But I really wish that Parthiban did not have that permanent hangdog expression when he is not fighting someone. I also do not see the rationale for his unshaved, unkempt look throughout.

Sanjay Dutt, in a near-reprise of his vicious roles as villain (notably KGF 2) plays to the gallery. Trisha has nothing to do, and Gautham Menon as the forest ranger is okay.

Technically the film is upbeat, especially in the action and VFX departments. Anirudh Ravichander’s songs are more noise than anything else and remind me of his work in the recent Hindi film, Jawan. The English lyrics by Heisenberg, though written well, seemed rather incongruous.

Watch this film if you must. Of course, in 2023, films like Jawan, Animal, Vikram and Jailer must have made viewers immune to violence, if not perversely looking out for it!

Rating: **1/2

Seven Screen Studios present Leo Produced by: S. S. Lalit Kumar & Jagadish Palanisamy Directed by: Lokesh Kanagaraj  Written by David Cronenberg,  Lokesh Kanagaraj, Rathna Kumar & Deeraj Vaidy Music: Anirudh Ravichander Starring: Vijay, Sanjay Dutt, Arjun, Trisha, Gautham Menon, George Maryan, Mysskin, Madonna Sebastian, Mansoor Ali Khan as Hridayaraj D’Souza, Priya Anand, Mathew Thomas, Iyal, Denzil Smith, Maya Krishnan, Anurag Kashyap, Kamal Haasan (Voice Only) & others



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