Release date: August 28, 2015
Directed by: Kabir Khan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Katrina Kaif

Phantom, as a film, could have been categorized as a political thriller, instead it has tricks rolled up its sleeve to make it look more like a con film. Right from the start, it shows us a drawn-out action sequence with two cars and their respective drivers accelerating and ramming their cars into each others’. The sequence, filled with fast action and a cool slow-motion fall off a bridge in Chicago, is just that. The audience isn’t even involved in the film yet, but it’s a cool hook.

The cool hook then propels the story in a flashback to the origins of Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan), a former member of the Indian armed forces. A young rookie, at the Indian intelligence agency RAW, proposes the idea of sending a suicide mission man to Pakistan to wipe out Hafiz Saeed, David Coleman Headley and a few more perpetrators of Mumbai’s 26/11, just how the mighty Americans did in 2011. Except, this isn’t a SEAL team dropping in from a chopper.

Optimism is not a bad concept, unless you force a hundred contrivances and co-incidences. Then it’s just a manufactured copy of how a child’s perception of optimism is; naive and too idealistic. Since the film belongs to the pseudo-thriller genre, it indulges in numerous cheap thrill scenes. Picture this, guy ‘A’ is taking a swig of a drink he’s not supposed to. There’s no one at home and no one in a mile near him because he’s in vacuum hole. And even then, you’ll get to see a person who can stop him, out of nowhere, appearing in the close proximity of ‘A’. Now take this approach, and visualize it at least 7 times. This is what Phantom does to desensitize you. It induces an overdose of too many cringeworthy coincidences.

What’s appreciable is that the film doesn’t always stop to explain things and slow everything down. This trend goes to the extent of focusing too less on the reasons for the characters’s actions. It deprives you of empathizing with the people on the screen, which again makes you just an outside spectator. The makers try to counter these flaws by invoking jingoistic moments, and some of them, to their credit, are subtly entertaining.

Phantom oscillates between being good and “Um, okay.” It’s an ambitious effort all round, only it falters too often.

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5)

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