Movie Review: SPECIAL 26 (2013)
Con movies have never been as popular in Bollywood as they have been in Hollywood. But that doesn’t stop them from trying. It’s not often however, that a Bollywood movie is fully able to capture the essence of a heist film. Here is my Movie Review of SPECIAL 26…
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
After a gripping movie that showcased a difference perspective on ‘the terrorist’ archetype, Writer / Director Neeraj Pandey returns in 2013 with SPECIAL 26, one of the more original Bollywood takes on a con man film, with a lot of concepts that reminded me of the classics.
The story is all about Ajju played by Akshay Kumar, and his small team of grifters who run a unique but consistent con of raiding the houses of corrupt politicians and business men under the guise of being various law men, Income Tax officers, etc. and making away with all the illegal loot. The crimes are never reported as the victims have more to lose by admitting to having the black money in the first place. The perfect crime, until they piss off a young and eager Inspector Ranvir Singh played by Jimmy Shergill.
After unwittingly becoming a pawn in their game and being suspended off of the force, young Inspector Singh decides to track down the crooks, with the help of CBI Agent Waseem Khan played by Manoj Bajpayee. Thus begins the cat and mouse game of the likable criminals and the hard-nosed cop chasing them down. It’s recognizable formulas and precedents that aren’t ground breaking, but definitely entertaining.
SPECIAL 26 revs up the excitement during scenes that may otherwise come off as boring; men traipsing all over mansions, ripping apart beds and paintings in search of ill acquired funds. But the musical score by M. M. Kreem and some efficient editing by Shree Narayan make those scenes some of the best in the movie. The very cool heist montages are as exciting as they as suspenseful with the over all story unfolding around them. At times though, it is over done and becomes too repetitive.
It’s a heist film through and through with shades of the classic con movies. Akshay Kumar plays Ajju in more somber tone than what we’re used to seeing of him these days. When not playing a part, the character oozes the suave of Danny Ocean, while holding back the vulnerability of an Eddie Felson, especially during the romance scenes. Anupam Kher accompanies Kumar’s cool with a portrayal of a bumbling buffoon who is constantly nervous up until the moment the con is on. It’s a departure for Kher as well, seeing how he usually does the serious dramatic roles, to see him as a frail and nervous old man. Bajpayee brings his trademark realism to the role that is at times humorous, other times despicable but always engaging.
Despite it’s energy, SPECIAL 26 over uses a lot of the techniques that make it a good movie. The montage thing drags after a while, as a lot of it focuses heavily on the characters getting ready to…. do something or go somewhere. So many long shot sequences of the characters walking through hallways and rooms towards the camera, with conviction… wear thin after a while. The amount of scenes that feature characters walking in SPECIAL 26 probably rival that of THE WEST WING in its entire run. Kajal Agarwal as Kumar’s love interest in the movie was bland. The weakest element of the film has to be the romance sub plot, which also was responsible for most of the out of context song and dance numbers.
[ SPOILER: Do no read any further if you don’t want to know details regarding the ending of the movie. ]
There is one thing that bugs me about the plot that passes the suspension of disbelief given that the movie is set in India. Anywhere else in the world, and the premise falls apart as easily as a Diabetic’s reasons for having a chocolate fudge moustache.
Jimmy Shergill is revealed to be part of Akshay Kumar’s crew at the end of the movie. Apparently he was ‘in on it’ from the earlier scam in the opening scene, which lead to his suspension as a fake police officer, as it turned out. His inclusion of Manoj Bajpayee’s character to ‘nab’ the con men was all part of the elaborate scheme that drove the plot forward to Kumar’s advantage. However, his being a fake cop would’ve and should’ve been immediately exposed after the opening con. I assume there is paperwork involved in suspending a Police Officer? So given that… the whole time since his suspension, to him being introduced to an Indian Intelligence officer, by a higher ranking Intelligence officer… no one caught onto the fact that Ranvir Singh was a guy that just showed up in a cop costume one day and just continued the pre tense for weeks in the company of several levels of Law Enforcement and freely frequenting the country’s Intelligence Agency?
[ End SPOILER. You can keep reading now. ]
Despite its shortcomings, SPECIAL 26 is a heist movie, and being that, it delivers high on entertainment factor. It’s fun, energetic and riveting from beginning to end. The characters are real, believable and played to perfection by the wonderful cast.