Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Adah Sharma, Angira Dhar, Gulshan Devaiah, Rajesh Tailang
Director: Aditya Datt
Rating: 1 Star (out of 5)
Touted as stunt star Vidyut Jammwal's biggest release to date on the strength of the number of screens that film is playing, Commando 3 is not only an unabashed rehash of the previous two entries of the franchise in terms of the action sequences but, far worse, it is also a sickening regurgitation of all the Islamophobic notions that feed this particular Bollywood genre. The plot is as thin and hackneyed as it can get: a chest-thumping, flag-invoking, invincible patriot goes on a mission to counter an evil religious fanatic out to destroy India.
Commando 3 is infinitely more disingenuous than the other terrorism-themed Mumbai films that we have seen because just ahead of the finale it very cunningly puts the onus of thwarting a nationwide terror attack on the Muslim themselves while the male protagonist in faraway London proceeds to pulverise his cornered adversary with blows that reduce the latter to pulp.
A very, very wicked and cold-blooded man in London, Buraq Ansari (Gulshan Devaiah), who owns a South London restaurant called Bukhara, plots a bigger-than-ever terror attack on multiple Indian targets. The first time we see him in a regular, full-fledged sequence, he is busy rustling up some biriyani as his ten-year-old son Abeer (Atharva Vishwakarma) watches.
The biriyani is meant for an incompetent associate that he is about to punish with death. He repeatedly stabs the man. Abeer covers his eyes. Buraq orders him not look away and to repeat what he has taught him: you have to pay for your sin. Devaiah is at his twisted best in this scene. Sadly, Commando 3 does not have enough meat for the wonderfully measured actor to go to town with. He is by far the best thing about the film, but one cannot help feeling that Devaiah deserved better than this half-baked, scrappy cat-and-mouse game.
The opening shots of the film, which are in the form of VHS tapes watched by skullcap-wearing youngsters across the country, shows a masked man standing in front of the ISIS flag and issuing a call to jihad. Bas kuch boond khoon ka sawaal hai (It's a question of only a few drops of blood), he hisses. No prizes for guessing who the man behind the mask is!
Next up are a posse of Mumbai cops who stop a calf from being slaughtered by three men and, in the process, stumble upon Buraq's nefarious conspiracy to radicalise disgruntled Muslim youth by holding out the promise of paradise and to convert young, unemployed Hindu boys with the lure of money.
A woman whose son is one of the arrested converts says that she is fine with being a Mussalman's maa, but will never accept being called an aatankwaadi's mother. The near-equalization of the two states of being - the manner in which the dialogue is spoken leaves no room for confusion that the film thinks that the former is only marginally better than the latter - is appalling, to say the least. This sort of dangerous messaging runs all through the film like a dark, subconscious thread.
India's anti-terror squad sends who else but the unstoppable Karanvir Dogra to nab the terror mastermind in London and eliminate him. Once the binary has been established, it is clear how the confrontation will pan out and end. The two-hour wait until the climax makes Commando 3 a painfully boring affair.
Written by Darius Yarmil with dialogues contributed by lyricist Junaid Wasi, Commando 3 is an exhausting watch because it holds absolutely no secrets. All its big action set pieces (designed for Jammwal's overly physical performance that involves mind-boggling flips, twists, turns and swerves at the end of which he never fails to land on his feet) are telegraphed well before they come to pass.
Every time the protagonist steps into a fight, he adjusts his hipster bun to indicate that he means business. The stunts vary only slightly from one confrontation to another, and the essence remains the same, turning the action scenes into mechanical, monotonous exercises that start to weigh heavy as soon as they begin.
The hero takes recourse to laughably arbitrary methods to draw conclusions about the whereabouts of the villain and the date on which he will strike. The assault will take place on Diwali, he announces with very thin evidence to back up the claim. You keep wracking your brains. But Karan Dogra gets down to work in right earnest. And the film counts the number of days to go before the terror attack.
Around the halfway mark, the cool and casual commando alters his inference just as randomly and brings D-day forward by a few days, sending himself and his aides - Mallika Sood (Angira Dhar), Armaan Akhtar (Sumeet Thakur), both agents on loan from the British intelligence headquarters, and "encounter specialist" Bhavna Reddy (Adah Sharma) handpicked to be his sidekick and secret admirer.
At one point, Bhavna, who speaks with a heavy South Indian accent that turns her into a caricature difficult to take seriously, tells our man as he prepares to plunge into a particularly dangerous foray: if you die it would be a national loss for your bosses, for me it would be a personal loss. For the audience and for the cause of cinema, it might have been a blessing in disguise. It would have brought the curtains down on the dimwitted tale.
The two girls, on their part, do get their piece of the action, but they still have to necessarily keep out of the way when the hero takes on the mantle of power-packed deshbhakti. The duo of Sharma and Dhar have to make do with liberating the villain's son while Jammwal crosses one deadly obstacle after another to reach the baddie and whisk him away from under the nose of Britain's military intelligence.
If this kind of by-the-numbers filmmaking appeals to you, Command 3 might command a bit of your attention. If it doesn't, look elsewhere for your weekend entertainment and leave it for Vidyut Jammwal fans to justify the large of number of screens that their favourite star's film has earned.