Jailer movie review: This movie is cast within the immense shadows of Rajinikanth. Nelson takes full advantage of Rajinikanth's stardom to infuse the movie with a strong sense of nostalgia.
Story: Muthuvel Pandian, a retired police officer, goes to great lengths to avenge his son and protect his family members from a blood-thirsty, idol-robbing criminal.
Review: The question, 'Do you know who my father is?' has always been a sign of pampered child harbouring an inflated ego that has never been tested by the harsh realities of life. In Tamil cinema, however, that question is being reinvented and cast in a positive light by a bunch of young filmmakers like Nelson to celebrate the rich cinematic legacy of ageing superstars. In Vikram, Prabhanjan (Kalidas Jayaram), an honest police officer, asks his tormentor this question just before he gets brutally killed and sets the stage for his father Vikram (Kamal Haasan) to finish the job he started. In Jailer , Arjun (Vasanth Ravi), a cop known for his integrity and fearlessness, also introduces us to his father Muthuvel Pandian (Rajinikanth) in a similar fashion.
First some background: Arjun is chasing a big crime syndicate that robs antique idols from temples across the country. He successfully even manages to seize a shipment, provoking the gang to kidnap his father. The gang believes that holding Arjun's father captive will grant them a tactical advantage when negotiating the release of stolen treasures worth millions. Unfortunately, they don't know that Muthuvel Pandian, an old house cat, is also known by another name — Tiger. "I've heard tales of people grabbing a tiger's tail out of fear of a mere cat. But, you have caught a dinosaur's tail fearing me," tells Arjun on hearing the whole hostage situation.
That's the first introduction we get to Muthuvel's heroism. Muthuvel is unfazed by that little run-in with the criminals. He goes back to his retirement life, where he's treated like an unpaid house help. "You lose your job, you lose respect at home," Muthuvel complains to his 6-year-old grandson.
However, Muthuvel's life turns upside down when Arjun gets taken by the idol-robbing gang. The police department concludes that Arjun is dead and his body has been dissolved without a trace. Yes, like Nelson, even Varma (played by Vinayakan) seems like a big fan of Breaking Bad. He uses an acid bath disposal mechanism to get rid of his victims.
And Arjun's disappearance sets Muthuvel on the path of revenge. After slaying the man who he deems responsible for his son's end, Muthuvel's urge for vengeance settles down as he worries for the well-being of his family. He implores Vinayakam to stop the bloodshed and even offers to prostrate before him to end the conflict. Varma, in his usual brash and barbaric attitude, outlines his plans to Muthuvel. "First, I will decapitate your grandson's head. Then I will kill your daughter-in-law, then your wife and finally you," warns Vinayakam, underestimating the lengths to which the elderly man might go.
And thus, Muthuvel brings out all the big guns in spectacular fashion.
The entire narration of Jailer is cast within the immense shadow of Rajinikanth. Nelson takes full advantage of Rajinikanth's stardom to infuse the movie with a strong sense of nostalgia and, playfully engages the audience by frequently posing the question — subtextually — "You know who he is, right?" wink-wink. Each hint is aimed at reminding the towering stature of Rajinikanth and all he has achieved, both on and off the screen, in a career spanning nearly five decades now. This adulation channelled onto the screen is further elevated by the pulsating background score by Anirudh Ravichander and cinematographer Vijay Kartik Kannan's mellow and softly lit frames.
In Rajinikanth's portrayal of Muthuvel, there isn't a lot of action. He's not a foot soldier, but a commander. He has achieved so much during his prime years and has amassed substantial street cred and a reservoir of goodwill he could tap into whenever he pleases. He doesn't have to move a finger to stop men swinging for his throat. He has agents who handle such matters on his behalf. And this element sparks our imagination — Rajinikanth doesn't need to perform extraordinary feats. All he has to do is appear and flip a cigar into his mouth, the screen will set itself on fire. Nelson cleverly uses the cameos of Shivarajkumar's Narasimha and Mohanlal's Mathew to further heighten the excitement. These stars may be ageing, but their brilliance remains undiminished.
Verdict: Jailer is a highly entertaining crowd-pleaser. Nothing path-breaking but it is sure to become an enjoyable delight for the masses.