Kill Review

Kill Review

Plot: When army commando Amrit finds out his girlfriend Tulika is engaged against her will, he boards a New Delhi-bound train in a daring quest to derail the arranged marriage. But when a gang of knife-wielding thieves led by the ruthless Fani begins to terrorize innocent passengers on the train, Amrit takes on the thieves in a death-defying spree to save those around him – turning what should have been a typical commute into an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride.

Review: India’s last big crossover hit was 2022’s Oscar-winning Hindi-language film RRR. That historical epic blended Marvel Studios’ spectacle with revisionist history for an international box office success. This year’s buzzworthy Hindi movie is Kill. The basic title should be enough indication that this movie will not be a feel-good comedy or a romantic drama. Kill takes a cue from predecessors like John Wick and The Raid to deliver a bloody, ultraviolent action movie that delves quickly into a bloodbath and never looks back. Hitting theaters this weekend, Kill has already been slotted for an English-language remake by 87Eleven, the makers of John Wick, and the reasons are pretty clear. If you have seen the trailer for Kill, you have a good idea of what is coming your way, but there is so much more gore than I was prepared for. While there are some intense action sequences, Kill feels a bit repetitive, and the lack of levity sometimes makes for a difficult viewing experience.

Kill opens with elite commandos Amrit (Lakshya) and his best friend Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan) returning from a mission to learn that Amrit’s girlfriend of four years, Tulika (Tanya Maniktala), is now engaged. A cursory familiarity with Indian culture helps follow the plot, but the idea of arranged marriages and status is vitally important to the setup. Amrit plans to whisk Tulika away and elope, but her family quickly board a train bound for Dehli. Amrit and Viresh also board the train, which is soon besieged by a gang of bandits. Led by the sociopathic Fani (Raghav Juyal), the thieves begin to rob the train passengers at knifepoint when they discover Tulika’s father, Baldev Singh Thakur (Harsh Chhaya), is one of the wealthiest men in the region. Fani decides a ransom would be lucrative, despite his father Beni (Ashish Vidyarthu) disapproving of the plan. But he does not bank on Amrit and Viresh. The multi-car train then becomes the battleground for the two highly-trained soldiers to take down the gang of almost fifty desperate criminals.

For the first fifteen minutes, Kill boasts some expected tropes of Indian blockbusters, including melodramatic musical cues, exaggerated romantic elements like hair blowing in the wind while indoors, and gauzy shots during flashbacks. The over-the-top moments quickly shift once the train gets moving, as the very first violent moment is a machete embedded in a shoulder. The kills pile up and do not stick to slicing and dicing. Kill goes all in with broken necks, human heads reduced to puddles of chunky gore, and nonstop stabbings. There is also little attempt to edit the sequences to save the audience from the brutality as director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat does not veer away from seeing blades enter bodies and the blow freely begin to flow. Oddly, if you are squeamish, you will not be watching Kill, but even those with iron stomachs are not ready for how much viscera is in this movie. The level of violence increases as the movie continues but hits its stride at the forty-five-minute mark, which is also the moment the on-screen title appears. Yeah, Kill boasts a three-quarter-hour teaser followed by another hour of fighting.

As Amrit, Lakshya is a solid protagonist but has more in common with Bob Odenkirk’s Hutch Mansell in 2021’s Nobody rather than Keanu Reeves as John Wick. Amrit is brutally efficient at killing thugs, but he also gets his ass handed to him throughout. During one fight with Siddhi (Parth Tiwari), I was not sure Amrit would survive the scene, let alone the entire film. While the injuries sustained by anyone in Kill would surely be deadly, movie audiences know heroes and villains can handle more. The problem comes from seeing the same main characters get stabbed repeatedly, which eventually becomes redundant. My biggest problem with this movie is just how much these characters loop the same sequence of kicking ass and getting their ass kicked without much change in the pattern. One particular twist at the forty-five-minute mark revitalizes Kill for the remainder of the movie, but it remains mired in the punch-punch-stab-stab-repeat until the end credits roll.

As strong as the hero is, the villain is key to any good movie. Raghav Juyal plays Fani in a way that reminded me of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki before he turned into an antihero. Fani is a borderline sociopath who is not a physical match for Amrit but has no fear of repercussions as he kills when he sees fit. Fani is a solid antagonist on his own, but he is swarmed by a dozen characters with whom we are given a substantial amount of screen time. The criminals form an extended family, so when Amrit kills members of the clan, they swear revenge. It may be a cultural disconnect for non-Indian viewers, but there is an odd focus on the grief of the bad guys, which feels like we are meant to sympathize with them despite their despicable behavior. After what the thieves do in the film’s first half, it is impossible to feel anything for them as they cry on screen at their fallen brothers, uncles, and fathers. This was the oddest choice in the film and almost took me out of the movie.

Kill features some solid action moments but nothing that matches the balletic style of John Wick or the whimsy of Bullet Train. There are no standout moments like Oldboy‘s hallway scene or Nobody‘s bus sequence. A lot of intense moments strung together make Kill into a propulsive experience, but it feels cartoonish and nihilistic in hindsight. The buzz for Kill is warranted as it may be the most action-packed movie to hit screens this year, but it is not on par with The Raid, Dredd, or similar genre offerings. I was glued to seeing what would come next, but I felt like I needed a shower when Kill was over. Even though it centers on a love story and has an honorable goal for the main characters, Kill is almost too brutal for its own good. Kill is good but not as good as the buzz may have you think.

Kill

GOOD

7

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