Almost five years back, Director Nishikant Kamat and John Abraham had come together for ‘Force’ (2011), a fairly well-made action thriller which was the remake of the Tamil film ‘Kaakha Kaakha’ (2003). They join forces for another action thriller but this time they seek inspiration from Korean cinema. While ‘Force’ (2011) had John essaying the role of a cop, ‘Rocky Handsome'(2016), an official remake of the South Korean thriller ‘The Man From Nowhere’ (2010), puts him on the other side of the law. The plot revolves around a man trying to save a little girl and thus, one cannot help but think of ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ (2015), last year’s biggest hit, which had a similar theme.
Kabir Ahlawat (John Abraham), a brooding man who keeps to himself, owns a pawn shop in Goa. The only person Kabir seems to be close to is a little girl called Naomi (Diya Chalwad). Anna (Nathalia Kaur), Naomi’s mother, is addicted to drugs and does not take proper care of her daughter. Naomi often wanders off to Kabir’s place and Kabir likes to have her around as well. The reason behind Kabir’s aloofness is a rough past that involved the death of his wife Rukhsida (Shruti Haasan). Anna steals some drugs which belonged to a powerful drug mafia. This leads to Naomi and her getting kidnapped. Kabir tries to trace the men behind the kidnappings and resolves to get Naomi back home.
A film that has been designed as an action thriller should serve up some good action sequences along with having a narrative that should keep you on the edge of your seats. While the film is laced with some terrific action sequences, the screenplay manages to engage you sporadically. The ways in which the police or Kabir trace the several antagonists come across as very convenient. Also, the antagonists are caricaturish and some of their antics get to your nerves after a while. Owing to the nature of the plot, the film could have had several emotionally rousing sequences but the ones that you see on screen are so superfluous that they fail to move you.
As stated earlier, the film has some of the most well-choreographed action sequences one has seen in a Hindi film. And, there are plenty of them! The action has been woven neatly into the narrative and most of them spice up the proceedings in a rather flimsy plot. Another factor that works in favour of the film is the pace. Even though the film, which deals with the drug mafia, barely offers you something which you have not seen in any other film, the events take place quickly one after the other. It is not difficult to predict as to what is going to happen next but the good thing is that the film moves so fast that you have no option but to be attentive and keep your eyes transfixed on the screen.
John Abraham’s one-note, poker-faced expression works for the character he plays but he should have been a little emotive in some sequences. Though the character of Kevin could have been sketched out better, Nishikant Kamat does a fine job as the villain. Diya Chalwad is weighed down by some heavy dialogues that could have been trimmed for a better impact but the child actor performs reasonably well. Sharad Kelkar uses his imposing persona pretty well and plays the character of the cop to perfection. Kazu Patrick Tang performs the action sequences very well; his combat sequence with John is splendid. Shruti Haasan is good in a cameo.
There is not much to complain about Nishikant Kamat’s direction. Aided by Aarif Shaikh’s masterful editing, the director manages to tell the story he had in hand effectively. The problem is that the screenplay (adapted from ‘The Man From Nowhere’ (2010) by Ritesh Shah) does not have enough nail-biting moments which are extremely important in a thriller. Sure, the action sequences (Sunil Rodrigues and Kecha Kammpakdee) are exciting but the script does not match up. The cinematography (Shankar Raman) is very good. Songs (Sunny and Inder Bawra – “Rehnuma”, “Aye Khuda” and Bombay Rockers – “Rock Da Party”) have been incorporated nicely in the narrative and most of them are tuneful as well. The background score (Sunny and Inder Bawra) is functional.
‘Rocky Handsome’ boasts of some of the most finely choreographed action sequences in a Hindi film. Alas, the plot is not half as exciting as the action. Those who expect to see the brawny John Abraham indulging in some heavy-duty action would not be disappointed. However, if you are looking for an engaging narrative along with it, this might not turn out to be your best bet.