‘Laththi’ movie review: Vishal’s cop thriller fails to push us to the edge of our seat – The Hindu

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December 22, 2022 05:12 pm | Updated 05:12 pm IST
Vishal in ‘Laththi’ | Photo Credit: U1 Records/Youtube
There’s a moment towards the end of Vinoth Kumar’s  Laththi, wherein the bad guys have buried alive the hero’s loved one and ask him to find the burial spot. It reminds us of Gautham Vasudev Menon’s  Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu. Another similarity between the two films is that they both involve a cat-and-mouse game between the hero, who is a cop, and the bad guys. But unlike  Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (and most other cop-thrillers), in  Laththi, it’s not the cop who is after the bad guys; the bad guys are after him (or at least that’s what we are led to believe up to a point).
A few refreshing bits like this in the first half make us sit up and take note. The hero, for instance, is not some testosterone-charged high-ranking officer whose punches weigh a ton and a half or who proudly proclaims himself a “porukki” (though his wife, played by Sunaina, affectionately calls him “pokiri”). Muruganantham (Vishal) is a middle-aged, middle-class constable under suspension, who is desperately trying to get back into his job – not only because he loves it but also because he has a family to run. 
He is an honest and upright cop but also fears authority. He clears his superior’s tea glass and cleans leftovers from his table. Upon rejoining, he begs his superior officer not to put him on ‘enquiry duty’ – basically beating the living daylights out of the custodial suspects with a latthi – which got him suspended (“I am even ready to do your domestic chores,” he tells his amused superior).
In other words, the hero, especially for a Tamil cop film, doesn’t seem larger than life. And, this works not only character-wise but also plot-wise. Because, when the antagonists surround him and his school-going son in a half-constructed building towards the end of the first half, it sets up the film beautifully. The audience will root for Muruganantham not just because he is the hero; he is also the underdog here. He has to overcome the overwhelming odds to save himself and his little son.
But all these good bits get undone post-intermission. Just as we prepare ourselves for the cat-and-mouse game to veer into the survival drama zone, the film takes a u-turn and becomes yet-another-Tamil-action film with the usual slo-mo fights and out-of-place melodrama.
As much as the protagonist’s character is fleshed out well, the writing is underwhelming with respect to the antagonists. The villains are just brawny, baritone-voiced men doing bad things. They are a father-son duo trying to harm another father-son duo – apart from this, there is nothing noteworthy. Just to make the audience hate one of the bad guys, the writer and/or the director resort to a vulgarly shot brutal rape scene. The writing misses the point: more than loathing the villains, we are supposed to be scared of them. But they hardly appear terrifying. 
The final act of the film seems stretched out just for Vishal to showcase his acting and action chops. It becomes a bit too long. Though it’s Vishal who single-handedly takes down over a hundred thugs, we are the ones who get tired of it. 
‘Laththi’ is running in theatres
Tamil cinema / reviews
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