Director Vikram Kumar's 24, starring Surya in triple role, is the best science fiction and fantasy drama made in India after Mr. India.
Actor Suriya should be appreciated for his consistent efforts to stand out among his peers, who have been hanging onto the tried and tested formula of commercial a.k.a masala films just to survive another Friday at the box office.
In spite of having the largest and the most diverse film industry, films from the genres of science-fiction, superhero, and fantasy with high standard special effects are a rarity in India. When filmmakers attempt on such genres, movies either suffer from sub-standard special effects or poor writing. It is an another rarity to see a filmmaker get this both factors straight and right.
Director Vikram Kumar's 24, starring Surya in triple role, is the best science fiction and fantasy drama, involving a watch, made in India since Mr. India. The director hasn't been ambitious with computer graphics, he has made a minimal but very effective use of them and keeps audience invested in the film with witty and engaging storytelling.
It is 1990 and Sethuraman (Suriya), an Indian scientist, has just finished inventing a watch that allows its owner to travel back and forth in time. Before he could fully come to terms with his landmark invention and celebrate the success with his wife Priya (Nithya Menen) and infant son Mani, his megalomaniac twin brother Athreya (Suriya again), walks into his house and changes the course of the story.
In a series of twist and turns, Priya and Sethuraman are dead. Athreya is crippled and in coma. The baby and the device ends up at the hands of a stranger woman Satya (Sharanya).
It is 2016, Mani, is now 26-year-old and is a watch mechanic. The priceless creation of his father all these years remained locked up in small wooden safe-box as its key was lying at a clenched fist of Athreya. A fire incident at hospital, triggered by an eagle feather, wakes up Athreya from coma, who drops the key on the hospital floor, which eventually ends up at Mani's watch shop.
Mani opens the box and begins to learn the power of the device. Of million things he could possibly be doing with that device, he uses it to impress his love interest Sathya, played by Samantha Ruth Prabhu.
He freezes time, to alter his environment, rewinds the time back to re-engage in the same conversation with impressive responses. He even alters the outcome of a crucial cricket match between India and Sri Lanka. The chemistry between Mani and Satya is one of the highlight of the film. They both are charming and leaves you wanting for more of them onscreen.
On the other hands, Athreya hunts for the device and even tries to create one for himself. Following another series of twits and turns, Mani and Athreya come face to face just before the interval. There is a small action sequence. At the end, Athreya empties his handgun into Mani and chops off his hand along with the watch.
However, Athreya learns that he can only time travel and change events that happened in last 24 hours and can't go beyond it. So he plans to 'unkill' Mani and trick him into modifying the watch that would enable him to travel 26 years back in time and fulfill his ambition.
Whether Athreya succeeds or not in his evil play makes the rest of the film.
Director Vikram has built an interesting premise for a sci-fi movie with dollops of fantasy and commercial elements. The romance between Suriya and Samantha is charming, funny and refreshing. Sharanya leaves a mark as an innocent single mother.
Suriya has tried to show variation among his three characters. His performance as Athreya stands out among the pack.
There are no forcefully injected songs in the film. Music by A.R. Rahman coupled with beautiful locales in the songs, has worked in film's favour. Cinematography by Tirru is another plus for the movie.
Overall, 24 as a film is far from perfect. But Suriya's charming and witty performance encourages you to overlook all other shortcomings and logical follies. It is a movie you won't regret watching this summer.
Director: Vikram Kumar
Cast: Suriya, Sharanya, Samantha, Nithya Menen