For a movie that constantly weighs in the pros and cons of technology, it’s a pity how inept 2.0‘s own understanding of its capabilities are.
There are tons of special effects in Director Shankar’s undoubtedly inferior sequel to Enthiran/Robot — the 2010 sci-fi masala that explored the daredevilry and dangers of man-machine interaction to entertaining results. Except they are so overwhelmingly shoddy, 2.0 ends up looking like a downgraded, cost-cut version of a promising idea.
Never one for subtlety, Shankar’s film-making is defined by his unabashed love for gimmicks and excess.
His audacious approach coupled with extraordinary conviction pulled off many reality-driven fantasies. Under his bold if impractical vision, a common man could be a CM for a day, a senior citizen could single-handedly banish corruption and a doppelganger could be generated using motion capture to keep a charade going. But he hit the peak of his big-scale morality musing in the spectacular and wholesome Enthiran pitting Rajinikanth against Rajinikanth.
Given the mega response the Rajni feast generated, working on a bigger, better sequel with a Bollywood hero for antagonist must’ve sounded like the logical next step.
It would have worked too if 2.0 would give a semblance of thrill or threat to its mindless and monotonous battle between a vengeful environmentalist and a robot experiencing a shifting personality disorder.
2.0 opens with a striking visual of a man doddering into a reddish pink sunset, a flock of birds flying above his head and a mobile tower before him, the action to follow will lead to the birth of a strange union of cell phones and creature.
An hour of teasing later, the bird finally hatches an egg and manifests into Akshay Kumar, looking rather savage in his beastly fangs, Ramsay red eyes and Count Olaf eyebrows.
His backstory has something valid to say about the evils of mobile phone and toxic radiation triggered by undue networks.
But between scenes that ogle over Amy Jackson in a tight-fitting Tron-ish body suit to feebly demonstrate even robots aren’t spared from the male gaze, a half-baked subplot featuring Danny Denzongpa’s (villain of the first one) son and Pakshiraja Akshay’s cell phone cluster assault on exclusively portly victims, the message is lost and buried.
What plays out is a persistent, exhausting, endless onslaught of a poorly constructed digital creature throwing up countless phones on the screen and Rajni’s scientist and robotic alter ego firing some photon miracle to counter all his negative shakti.
Loose physics and indulgence are the prerogative of movies modelled in the comic book spirit.
2.0 takes ample advantage of these liberties but forgets to have fun.
Such humourless treatment makes the 150-minutes long proceedings a slog to sit through despite Rajini’s best efforts to get all sneaky in his reloaded form against a Star Wars-inspired background score thrown in good measure. No doubt his devoted fans will cheer for Chitti repeating his tricks. The lack of ingenuity will frustrate the rest.
Akshay’s scowling is robust, but he comes in too late and contributes too little to lift 2.0 with the menace it deserved.
Somewhere in all that clutter and mass of men, mobiles, bots and birds hides an interesting allegory on the reliance and recklessness of the ubiquitous mobile phone culture.
2.0‘s cursory ticking of the downsides in clumsy common man conversations and confusion over ‘all life forms matter’ in an absurd, tiresome climax ensure it remains hidden.