A slick action thriller that’s derailed by its second half.
Being the third Bollywood film of the year that tries to attempt at being a slick international thriller, the bar isn’t set too high for ‘Tezz’. The failed Hindi remake of The Italian Job ‘Players’ was a whole new brand of awful, while the James Bond wannabee ‘Agent Vinod’ didn’t manage to come close to being good. ‘Tezz’ is better than those films thanks to a more focused and fast paced plot and some impressive action sequences, but has enough major flaws to keep it from being anything more than a decent film.
On a normal morning in London, the railway authorities get a call from a man who is Aakash Rana (Ajay Devgn). He tells them that he has planted a bomb in the passenger train that will explode the moment the train goes below the speed of 60mph and demands for a lot of money to deactivate it. While the entire police force and authorities are in a frenzy to handle the terrorist situation and locate the identity of the person, Counter Terrorism Command Arjun Khanna (Anil Kapoor) is on the hunt to foil the terrorist plot once and for all and discovers that there’s a tortured story to the Aakash that has forced him to do this.
Like ‘Players’ was an official remake of ‘The Italian Job’, ‘Tezz’ is the official remake of ‘Speed’. But instead of slavishly sticking to the plot of the original, it only takes one important element from the original – a vehicle will explode if a minimum speed isn’t maintained. The action is shifted from a bus to a train, while the point of view of the film is through the antagonists rather than the police for the most part. It’s an entirely different movie in terms of how the story unfolds. One positive for the film is that it keeps a fast pace in its first hour in particular, where we are quickly treated to a flashback and thrust straight into the action as Aakash calls the authorities and announces the bomb in the train. The resulting events are taut to watch and are gripping in terms of how they unfold and how authorities handle a situation like this. But if you’ve seen a lot of Hollywood movies, there’s nothing special here. In fact, the film is pretty much a mix of the Japanese 1975 film ‘The Bullet Train’, ‘Speed’, Tony Scott’s ‘Unstoppable’ and ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ with a bit of Naseerudin Shah’s excellent thriller ‘A Wednesday’ thrown in. By actually being set on a focused location in a small amount of time, the film is helped with that sense of immediate danger and quick pacing in the first half.
But the main thing that surprised me is how slick the film looks and how effective some of the action sequences in the film are compared to usual Bollywood standards. But then upon noticing that the filmmakers hired Gareth Milne for the action, it isn’t the surprise. The guy is responsible for the action from the Bourne movies, which are probably the best modern action movies ever. As a result, there are some highlight action sequences in the film which are the primary reason the film is decent to watch. There’s a particular sequence where a female evades the cops on her bike and it almost feels like a Hollywood film in the way that it’s framed and put together, actually having you engaged throughout. A fistfight in the end also feels gritty just like Bourne did and that’s got to a compliment for the filmmakers here. Some of these efforts are let down by subpar editing though, where scenes are sped up for no reason to add a feel of speed to them and look completely hokey and cartoonish because of that. An example of that is the parkour scene with Zayed Khan and ruins a potentially interesting scene. Add to that some very awful CGI during the train sequences. It feels like they ran out of budget somewhere between the actors’ fees and the action scenes, because it’s one of the most amateur CGI I’ve seen in a major film like this. It takes away from the feel of the film a little bit.
It’s in the second half where the film begins to feel unfocused as it goes on. While the first half has the speeding train with a bomb as the main plot, it takes a bizarre backseat during the second half as the focus shifts on the terrorists themselves and what’s happening with their backstories. We are treated to pointless subplots about their relationships and how the police is planning to attack them while there’s no mention of the train for a long time. Pretty soon, the train storyline becomes a subplot that ends in the most anticlimactic way possible and the film is now about a cop chasing these terrorists. Which would be interesting, but the film focuses way too much on the past of Aakash and the romantic subplot, which is actually surprisingly underwhelming and bland to watch considering how much they hyped it up. It tries to hammer audiences with the visa immigration theme and doesn’t really feel like reason enough for them to actually risk their lives with such a terrorist attack. The entire backstory falls flat despite looking interesting when the film began. It’s things like these that end the film on a mediocre note and take away from a pretty impressive first half.
Ajay Devgn gives a pretty strong performance in the film as the antihero, but he’s bogged down by the uninteresting backstory that pops up every now and then. He’s a competent actor and brings depth to the role. Zayed Khan looks like he tries too hard in the film to be that bad-ass guy, but props for the effort. But the real surprise here is Sameera Reddy, a usually terrible actress who gives a surprisingly strong performance here and fares very well in her action oriented scenes. Anil Kapoor is intense as a cop and does well, while Mohanlal gets utterly wasted in an unintentionally hilarious role of a random cop. Kangana Ranaut doesn’t add anything to the movie.
‘Tezz’ is better than most Indian attempts at a slick action movie, but a slack second half and plot issues derail it into barely decent territory.