Phantom’s trailers seemed to suggest the final product would be a mishmash of Ek Tha Tiger and Agent Vinod. The name Phantom also evoked childhood memories – the ghost who walks. Saif literally has been a ghost walking in his three mega flops of 2014. Naturally, Phantom opened to theatres with more skepticism than expectation. So is Kabir Khan’s latest blockbuster worth your time and money? Here’s five factors to consider:
1) 26/11 Attack: Terrorist attacks have frightened humanity no end with their uncanny bravado, detailed strategy and cold bloodedneess. My two recent visits to Taj Mahal hotel, Mumbai. this month, always lived with the fear imagining what would have happened and may happen anytime again.
9/11 has permanently changed airport security check measures. The images of Osama and falling twin towers keep coming to mind everytime I spread my arms, as a burly guy with a stick like object (metal detector), starts feeling my body.
Images of Hafeez Saeed often come to mind to anyone who cares for the nation. Phantom is about the decimation of a similar personality, in the same way as U.S. Marines entered Pakistan and finished Osama.
The movie hardly depicts Pakistan or Muslim religion in negative shades. On the contrary, the makers have shown how both sides suffer equally as victims. Pakistan showed their stupidity in banning this movie just to appease a free roaming mass murderer. That banning just ensured bit publicity and curiousness about the movie.
2) Spy thriller: Phantom is the third espionage movie within two years – easily a Bollywood record. The lofty standards set by D-Day and Baby were always going to be tough for Phantom to match, the jingoism lot easier. Sadly Phantom doesn’t match either – aside one scene where super fine actor Zeeshan’s eyes (on hearing a news) pumps the viewer up. But Phantom takes on personalities similar to Hafeez Saaed, David Headley et all – something which our governments have failed to do. Watch Phantom for that.
3) Chote Nawab: Saif returns to the genre where he shines the most. His golden run in mid 2000s featured fabulous performances in movies like Ek Hasina Thi, Omkara, Being Cyrus, Eklavya and Race. He carries the first half of Phantom – which is slicker, pacier, more meaningful and has better moments.
4) The epitome of beauty: Katrina Kaif gets more screen presence than what a female lead in an average masala movie gets. She has reduced her appearances to a movie a year, lately, and watching her ravishing self in scene after scene makes great viewing. She is probably six sigma certified in eye candy. Her acting skills excel in just one scene (in the climax), that apart, it’s the scenes where she tries hard or melodramatic, which slows pace of the movie.
5) Simplistic and loose: Aside Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Kabir Khan’s movies fall under ‘decent watch’ category without being excellent. That’s also sad reflection on his ability as despite good plotlines and fine cast, the movies never soar. Ditto for Phantom. Kabir sticks to his pet areas.. border issues, terrorism, shooting in a muslim country etc. Yet, hardly any emotions are evoked, pace gets terribly slackened in the second half and plotlines too simplistic. I wish such a subject was taken up by a Kashyap, Dhulia or a Raghavan.
Kabir, though, as usual, makes up with some excellent cinematography (although I felt for the hens kept in ice clad mountains with no sweaters on!). One well shot war sequence (rarely seen in Bollywood) and the climax, also sticks to mind.
Rating: 3/5. Averaged with friends. One time watch for taking on the perpetrators of India’s most chilling tragedy.
Box office prediction: Phantom has a steep budget (55 crores) and average competition coming up next fortnight (Welcome back and Hero). Aside that, it has star power and basic patriotism from viewers to bank on. Likely will flop, ending around 40 crores mark.