A strapping, beefy soldier on a mission takes on a particularly repugnant small-town rogue to keep a pretty damsel out of harm’s way in this predictably visceral action flick that plays out more like a violent cut-and-thrust computer game than a movie about real, believable people.
While the stunt scenes are impressively staged and filmed, the good versus evil confrontation is as old as the stunning peaks and vales around which the action unfolds.
The adrenaline-pumping Commando – A One Man Army arouses about as much emotion as an early morning jog on a treadmill.
Produced by Vipul Shah and directed by Dilip Ghosh, the film un-spools at a fair clip (if you discount a ridiculously out-of-place love ditty in the first half and a gratuitous item number in the second), but it makes no impression either on the mind or the heart.
The film alludes to the “ten thousand” power-crazed, greedy people who have been gnawing at the entrails of the nation, but the well-meaning spiel somehow rings hollow amid all the vacuous hullabaloo that Commando rustles up.
As the male protagonist puts it through a stray line of dialogue, the law of the jungle prevails here. You either kill or get killed. So, even if you were to treat this as a game of cat and mouse, it would run out of surprises within the first 30 minutes.
When the film opens, the hero, Karan Vir Dogra (Vidyut Jamwal) of the 9 Para Commandos of the Indian Army, is in a Chinese army prison. He has been captured on suspicion of being on an espionage mission.
A slimy minister (neither his portfolio nor is location is specified with any clarity) orders the commando’s officer, Colonel Akhilesh Sinha (Darshan Jariwala), to erase the man’s name from the rolls in order to prevent the China from using him as a political pawn.
The colonel launches into a passionate eulogy on the commando’s many physical and mental virtues and his superhuman powers of endurance to make a case for a rescue mission.
The politician responds with utter nonchalance: “The nation is more important than a soldier.” The officer has no answer.
After braving all manner of third degree torture for a year in a dark and dank prison cell, the unbreakable commando manages to escape, with hatred embedded in his heart for the rulers of the nation.
He makes it over the border into a nondescript Punjab town that is lorded over by a brutal hoodlum named Amrit Kanwal (Jaideep Ahlawat), who calls himself AK-74 because he was born on a moonless night that year.
Politicians and policemen do the baddie’s bidding. He also has his sights on the town’s hottest lass, Simrit Kaur (Pooja Chopra), and is bent upon marrying her.
The girl takes to her heels and runs into the commando, who himself is on the run from a variety of foes.
The rest of the film is a string of chases and bloody skirmishes in the jungle that leave a trail of corpses.
The protagonist is a man of few words and expresses himself mainly through his prowess as a hand to hand combatant.
One can say pretty much the same about the film itself: it allows the action to take precedence over character development.
So the dramatis personae aren’t flesh and blood figures the audience can develop any empathy with. The hero is an automaton-like terminator, the villain, a man born without pupils in his eyes, is a complete caricature and the motor-mouth female protagonist is pretty and pretty dumb.
There is no denying that both Jamwal and Ahlawat, each in his own way, have tremendous screen presence.
Jamwal does make a good action hero because he isn’t just brawn. He also has expressive eyes that can be put to infinitely better use than they are here.
Ahlawat’s venal villain, who reads SMS jokes to his human quarries and cracks up before he kills them, is more funny than menacing.
The two actors would be better advised to choose better vehicles than this film to display their wares.
Despite all the bravura technical effort that has clearly been put into Commando, the end result simply isn’t compelling enough to merit more than two stars.