Sardar movie review: Karthi shines as an action star in this flawed but watchable spy thriller
Sardar movie review: Karthi-starrer spy thriller is engaging and fun despite several glaring flaws largely due to some brilliant action and the lead star.
PS Mithran is the kind of filmmaker you want to take seriously because he wants to constantly push the envelope. After making a smashing debut with Irumbu Thirai – a terrific cybercrime thriller, he followed it up with the critically acclaimed superhero thriller Hero. Mithran now makes a noteworthy comeback with Sardar, which is a fairly engaging spy thriller that addresses a very pressing issue. Despite a largely predictable second half, Sardar has some very interesting stretches and it genuinely wants to introduce Tamil audiences to the world of spies. The outcome isn’t pathbreaking but it definitely leaves you with the feeling that this story had a lot of potential.
Karthi plays inspector Vijay Prakash, who is hungry for publicity and would do anything to make the headlines. Thanks to his sincere efforts, Tamil Nadu Police has been a topic of constant discussion on social media. However, Vijay’s commitment towards his work is marred on account of his father, a former spy who has been branded a traitor by the government. Vijay is only looked at as the son of a spy who betrayed his own nation and this makes him grow more bitter towards his father.
When an important file goes missing from the hidden vault of R&AW wing, Vijay makes it his life’s mission to catch the person who stole the file. In the process, Vijay learns that his father, once branded as a traitor, has been rotting in a prison in Bangladesh for 32 years. Karthi also plays the father, who goes by the code name Sardar. As Vijay tries to unearth more information about his father, the story introduces him as a stage artist turned spy in the flashback. The rest of the story is about Vijay trying to find out if his father really went rogue and turned against his own nation.
Tamil cinema has had very few spy films over the years and Mithran’s Sardar, despite its share of glaring flaws, is definitely a solid addition to the list. Sardar stays as much as rooted as possible in its attempt to explore the spy genre, and that’s something that really works in the film’s favour. It’s the rootedness of the film that makes it largely entertaining.
The only major complaint with Sardar is when it also wants to become an awareness film when it talks about water mafia and how multinational corporations are cashing in on the high demand for clean drinking water. This is where the film really struggles to stay relevant and gradually turns into a boring lecture. At some point, the film isn’t sure whether it wants to be a spy film (which it could’ve been more effectively if only it didn’t try to preach a message) or an awareness film on water mafia. Bhavesh Joshi, for instance, also addressed this issue of water mafia but it left a stronger impact as a superhero film that wants to fix a problem. Unfortunately, Sardar wants to be both a spy film as well as a message-heavy awareness film and the outcome isn’t wholesomely satisfying.
Sardar is still a watchable spy thriller that’s powered by some great action set pieces. Karthi as Sardar, a spy in his 60’s, makes action look so effortless. His introduction scene amidst a prison riot has to be one of the best sequences of the movie. The action is very smartly choreographed, especially when it involves Sardar, who can’t fight like a typical hero who is in his 20s or 30s. The young Karthi is more of a crowd-pleasing character which is fun to watch initially but gets lost with no purpose in the second half of the movie. The young Rithvik is easily one of the better written child characters in recent years. He has such incredibly good screen presence.
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