A welcome return to form from the Shankar-Rajini combo

A welcome return to form from the Shankar-Rajini combo

Language: Tamil, Hindi and Telugu 

Director: Shankar 

Cast: Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson 

Rating: 3.5/5

It’s not entirely right but we can’t hold ourselves back from comparing sequels to the first instalments. The main target of the follow-ups should be, at least, to match the highs of the first part. 

Shankar’s 2.0, early on, lacks the rhythm of Enthiran, released eight years ago. Scientist Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth), the creator of the popular robot Chitti (Rajinikanth again), is handed a peculiar case to solve -- Chennai comes to a halt as cellphones from every house have begun to disappear. Why is someone (some force?) so obsessed with mobile phones?

Shankar’s customary idea of killing people in power to build suspense has begun to feel tiresome now. So we get murders – of a minister, a telecom giant and a mobile store owner – each brutally perishing in different ways.  

The first-half has its moments. Shankar is a master at making us invested in whacky concepts. He perfectly shows the chaos and desperation of spending an entire day without mobile phones. But the director also packs in too much -- A silly villain (Sudhanshu Pandey plays Professor Bohra’s son) who hates Chitti, a home minister (Adil Hussain) who is clueless to the situation and a stale action sequence involving the army -- exhausting us too soon. 

Though we aren’t even allowed to fully savour Chitti’s introduction 2.0 gets back on track once the loveable robot gets into action. Despite the narrative detours, the first half is above average solely due to the technological grandeur. This is the best 3D film in the country. The visually-gripping interval-block fight scene, where Pakshirajan (Akshay Kumar gets a thunderous introduction) is unveiled, lifts the film.

The second half sets off with the typical but immensely watchable Shankar-film flashback. Jeyamohan’s dialogues and the amazing production design (the bird house is a delight) are the plus points of the carefully crafted portion. Shankar finally makes us care for his characters. And then the tempo begins to rise. We get what we crave from a Shankar-Rajini combo: mass, goose bumps-inducing moments.

Shankar packs one surprise after another, turning 2.0 into a terrific experience. The first real face-off between the two big actors happens in the night in the middle of a busy street and it’s brilliant. It brings to mind a famous scene from the director's previous flick Anniyan but it's still super engaging.

The ‘evil Chitti’ is sure to receive an ear-splitting welcome and Rajinikanth treats us to a fun ride as the badass machine. 2.0 gives Rajinikanth’s career another twist. The ageless star, under pressure with a series of flops, hangs on strongly. He means business in 2.0 and the Superstar is at ease playing four roles (the fourth one is a cracker of a character).

Akshay Kumar holds his own with a convincing performance. It’s not always easy to act in a Rajinikanth film and get your due. The Superstar’s arresting screen presence can overshadow an earnest effort but Akshay delivers a memorable act.

Shankar, the imaginative freak, is at his best in the climax. The majestic culmination of 2.0 will be hard to match even by the biggest of directors in the country. With 2.0, Shankar continues to push the envelope in handling technology. The writing lacks a bit of a punch. But 2.0 doesn’t forget to entertain. 

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