The Tamil movie Leo now playing in cinemas across the UAE. It is directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj and stars Vijay, Trisha, Sanjay Dutt, Arjun, Gautam Vasudev Menon, Priya Anand, Madonna Sebastian, Mysskin, Sandy, Anurag Kashyap

How to watch Leo in the UAE

Chithha is currently showing in cinemas across the UAE, such as VOX Cinema and Novo Cinemas. It will probably be a while before the film hits streaming services in the UAE.


  • Racy first-half
  • Action set-pieces
  • Vijay and Trisha portions


  • Generic second-half
  • Generic villains
  • Poorly written women characters

Right at the start of Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Leo, they show that this is inspired by the 2005 English movie A History of Violence. But Leo could as well have been a take-off from the Rajni blockbuster Baasha (1995). The template of man wanting to live quietly with his family is shattered by his violent past has been picked up in numerous films since then. 

So for those wondering whether Leo belongs to the much-vaunted LCU (Lokesh Cinematic Universe), the honest answer would be that this resides in BCU (Baasha Cinematic Universe).

Lokesh’s fascination for raw fights and bullet-ridden set pieces is fully evident in his works so far, and a story like A History of Violence, with its reflective nature on the idea of violence must be straight up his alley. And Lokesh does fair justice to the concept, especially in the first half. But Leo is a star vehicle.  And with a mass hero like Vijay at the top, the film has to pander to him, and that is where the film falters, especially in the second half when it gets tiresomely generic.

Okay, the film begins typically with Parthiban (Vijay), who runs a small eatery of sorts in a town in Himachal Pradesh, living a quiet life with his family comprising his wife (Trisha) and a son (Mathew Thomas) and daughter (Iyal). This portion is the much-talked-about run-in with the hyena from which Parthi saves the small town. Soon enough, two baddies (Mysskin and Sandy) who arrive at the eatery shatter the peace and tranquil life of Parthi. In dealing with them, Parthi unleashes violence, surprising his family members. 

But why did the baddies attack him? Parthi is suspected to be the son of drug lord Antony Das (Sanjay Dutt), whose brother is Harold Das (Arjun). But is Parthi a criminal part of that family? Or is he someone else whose identity is mistaken?

Saying anything more would be deemed a spoiler. Lokesh presents Vijay in a role that suits his age—a middle-aged father with an adolescent son and a daughter. The director doesn’t pander to the star by making the film a silly package. But the film does not become wholesome because the characters are hardly memorable.

Save for Vijay and Trisha, no one else has a half-decent character. The climax doesn’t sizzle simply because the villains have to offer nothing beyond their typical templates. Vijay is energetic in the fight sequences. He always has a yen for fun scenes, too. But his scope in Master (2021) — his previous film with the same director — is not there in this. Trisha’s portions could have been even more interesting if the director had the courage to go whole hog like in A History of Violence.

One of the valid criticisms against Lokesh is that his female characters come across as undercooked. And he has done nothing much in Leo to address that issue. Here too, the characters of Madonna Sebastian and Priya Sebastian are too shallow, and they hardly get the leeway to make their roles register. 

Gautam Vasudev Menon and Anurag Kashyap (in a minuscule role) are also around. But nobody gets to do anything memorable. Anirudh’s music is par for the course, but Manoj Paramahamsa’s camera work, with decidedly Western sensibility, is top-notch. The action sequences are sturdy and exciting, but they also wear thin towards the end. It is where you start feeling that Lokesh needs to go beyond mere violence. 

To be sure, some references from his previous films and the adroit use of yesteryear songs in the background make you perk up — George Maryan as Napoleon (of Kaithi) gets the loudest whistles —  but overall, this might be the weakest of Lokesh’s attempts in his fledgling career so far.

What are the other critics saying about Leo?

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Balakumar Kuppuswamy
Balakumar Kuppuswamy

An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.

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