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PHANTOM - Reading an old Indrajal Comics on the actual Phantom is sure going to be much more logical, thrilling & entertaining. (Review By Bobby Sing)

28 Aug, 2015 | Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / P / Movie Reviews / 2015 Releases

As an exciting patriotic spy movie, PHANTOM had a perfect timing to hit the screen with a theme quite relevant to the current political scenario dealing with sponsored terrorism. But one honestly expected a much better and logical espionage thriller from the director of most successful Hindi film of the present times BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN who earlier also gave us the decently made KABUL EXPRESS & NEW YORK dealing with related subjects.
Here many would find EK THA TIGER missing in the names mentioned above as I personally don’t rate it as any well-made spy-film completely dependent upon its huge star-enigma. But these references interestingly force me to assume that probably it’s the repeated theme used in more than 3 films of Kabir Khan that has resulted in such a lackluster product this time, with the director losing his much needed interest or enthusiasm dealing with the same things again and again in different forms.
Moreover if you consider BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN & PHANTOM together looking at their basic plot, then keeping aside their core purpose, both the films actually talk about a larger than life hero only entering Pakistan and completing his set task successfully. However the huge difference here remains that where in BB you immensely enjoy connecting with Salman Khan doing all the impossible acts in the neighbouring country just for the adorable little girl, there in PHANTOM you find it completely absurd when Saif does it all with a visible ease, killing few of the most wanted criminals of the world single handedly. And the major reason why you feel this way while watching PHANTOM is its ‘genre’ in which you cannot just set aside the logic, reasoning and intelligence as a political-spy-thriller dealing with terrorism and Pakistan to be exact. A fact that clearly got a much better support in Kabir’s own KABUL EXPRESS & NEW YORK along with BABY & D-DAY moving far ahead than PHANTOM in all respects.
Addressing the counter criticism here in relation to the foreign films, Yes, we have seen a ‘one-man-army’ completing the given spy-tasks in many hit western movies too performing the impossible. But the way PHANTOM presents its key sequences challenging the intelligent quotient of the viewers through an extremely childish writing and execution, it doesn’t allow you to draw any kind of comparisons at all putting it honestly.
Beginning with a very weird chase sequence in the first minute itself, its focus straight away shifts to the India’s Intelligence agency officers discussing a secret mission in a room like few friends casually talking about their next weekend program together. Moreover the way they all start looking for ‘a new capable, trustworthy spy’ in the old, dusty office files and vague references really make you laugh at the commendable imagination of the writers taking the maximum advantage of the so called ‘creative liberty’ granted to them with the job assigned.
The film goes on and on in the first half without offering any electrifying entertainment usually expected from such thrilling subject. And the same continues post intermission despite the spy-couple entering Pakistan with their fake identities. Besides the ease with which they keep on meeting the right people, at right places, acquiring heavy explosives and more within Pakistan itself, takes away all the remaining excitement left in the film leading towards an entirely predictable climax following the set routine.
In fact the writers continue walking on an unconvincing path till the very last, (portraying the Pakistan’s intelligence officers too in a similar comic tone), converting PHANTOM into a completely filmy take on a concerning theme that also becomes laughable at times due to the irresponsible and illogical execution as well as dialogues.
For instance just sample these lines written with an unintentional humour, said in all those tense situations in the film.
A. While passing on the remote for a mike-bomb, the so called bomb-engineer says,
“Mike aur remote ke beech mein kuchh nahin aana chahiye, nahin to remote kaam nahin karega”  (and this is supposed to be a technology used by highly trained, well equipped terrorists in 2015)
B. In the final sequences when a question is put to ‘the unofficial” Indian spy Saif (still there in Pakistan), about how will be get back to India? He says,
“Jaise Woh 10 Mumbai Chaley Gaye Thhey, Main Bhi Chala Jaunga"
(Now if this is not mocking at the country’s own security forces so irresponsibly then I don’t know what would be?)
C. Moreover when in the climax we get to see an Indian submarine entering into the Pakistani waters to get the spy back, then all barriers of ‘creative freedom’ get smashed like never before so brutally.
In short, only few things make some kind of impact amongst the less engaging progression of Kabir Khan’s PHANTOM. One is the camerawork, art direction and background score presenting the actions sequences well (especially the war-like ones in Syria). And second is the quite easy yet interesting murder sequence of David Headley in the first half providing the few thrills (appreciably using the real names of some known terrorists boldly). Other than that PHANTOM mostly remains an evenly paced unexciting spy thriller that ought to be a high paced, unpredictable, nail biting sensational killer-drama to be precise.
The performances remain mediocre exactly like the film despite the earnest effort of Saif Ali Khan playing the lead. And the actor must be feeling betrayed both by his writers and directors together since he is not able to make any kind of connect with the viewers whatsoever in his last few films. Katrina Kaif is just there as the ‘must-have’ heroine like a typical ‘bond-girl’, whereas its quite sad to see an actor like Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub wasted in such a silly way along with Sabyasachi Chakraberty.
Coming back to its basic subject of vengeance for the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai (unofficially planned by the Indian Intelligence), it gives me a feeling that the book on which the film is based upon must be many times better than its onscreen depiction as it seems. However if Hussain Zaidi’s MUMBAI AVENGERS (the actual novel) is also having the same improbable sequences projecting it all in such easy-going terms too, then that certainly makes it a questionable choice for adaptation by all means. Particularly for the avid readers of Hindi pulp fiction detective-spy novels written by renowned authors (like Surender Mohan Pathak and more), who are well familiar with much better, engaging and pulsating content in comparison since decades.
Incidentally the reference of spy-thrillers and similar books makes me recall a reputed name and a brief interview that importantly needs to be mentioned here related with the subject. And it’s about one of the most successful authors of the present times, Mukul Deva, who happens to be an ex-army man turned author with loads of practical experience of the actual war-field.
To give you a fair idea (also mentioned in his official website),
Mukul Deva’s novel LASHKAR (2008) had predicted Osama Bin Laden's presence in a safe house in Pakistan and then SALIM MUST DIE (2009) predicted his capture by US Special Forces with many more interesting revelations in his other books.
Luckily I was witness to an on-stage conversation with Mukul Deva (in the Crime-Literature festival this year) in which the author simply said that I try to present a mission which is actually POSSIBLE in real life or has parallels executed in the past in some way or the other. So these missions depicted in my books are presented as per my personal experience in the field with logical reasoning and information that is not entirely fantasy or based on some insane imagination. But at the same time I don’t reveal any secret that needs to be maintained as a secret following the official protocol.
Exactly the point missing in PHANTOM that entirely remains an unreal movie, solely dependent upon ‘fictional feel good proceedings’ wherein surprisingly ‘a newly appointed spy’ of Indian Intelligence (found just a few days before the mission) enters the foreign jail as well as Pakistan and finishes off all the major conspirators of 26/11 ……. just like that.
Personally speaking (taking a clue from its title), I would love reading an old Indrajal Comics on the actual ghostly character of Phantom once again that unarguably used to have a much more logical, thrilling and entertaining narration if compared to this new-age PHANTOM.
Still many might enjoy watching it, who can keep the logic home even while going for a political-spy thriller dealing with the dead-serious issue of global terrorism.
Rating : 2 / 5
(Note: One of the film’s official poster was highly inspired from the artwork of a shooter video game called “Homefront”.)

Tags : Phantom Movie Review by Bobby Sing, Phantom Film Review By Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Phantom Comics, Hindi films on global terrorism.
28 Aug 2015 / Comment ( 2 )

Bobby sir,
You are once again precisely perfect in all of your observations about phantom.
Now I want to tell you what I felt after watching it. I think that Phantom was doing fine as a triller in its first half before interval but after interval as the movie entres into Pakistan it gets converted into a comedy.

In some sequences I found it very funny like most funny part was when Katrina was giving her reason for helping Saif in killing Hafeez Saeed . It was funny that she wanted to kill the most wanted terrorist of the world because he disturbed her childhood memories of Taj Tea parties after that Saif and Katrina kept on talking about Taj tea at several occasions, I was feeling like if Saif had just said Wah! Taj than the whole movie would had been converted into a big action packed T.V. commercial advertisement of Broke Borne\'s Taj tea . Which Saif used to endorse earlier.

One more funny thing which I felt was by naming Katrina\'s character as Nawaj she will not start acting like Nawaj-ud-din Seddiqi, she will act like Katrina Kaif only.

Jokes apart I think that Kabir Khan must have got over whelmed by the story idea of killing Hafeez Saeed and avenging 26/11 and he must had felt very patriotic and therefore he kept all the logics at one side and made a very dill-logical film.

Things which I think that film lacked are-
1. Saif should have been shown in some disguise in at least few sequences .
2. There should have been a training scene of saif doing some rigorous exercises and making intense and interesting plan before starting the mission.
3. I think that if the film would have been made in the way that Saif followed a well made plan of the mission given to him by RAW without showing that any thing goes wrong in the mission as shown to us in Syria , if he had followed a perfect plan and Katrina\'s role should have been restricted to London only then I think that movie have been way more exciting.

Some other sequences which I found a little bizzare were-
1. How can someone just identify that a certain drug is not a correct drug or it is a poison by smelling it.

2. The sequence of Hafeez Saeed\'s rally when the security personnel stops Saif and asks him to show that the remote control car is real , my point is how can you imagine this scene that the security person has so much presence and space to run a remote control car in so crowded political rally and how can you think that security personnel will allow any remote operated device in so high profile political rally , it is amusing to think this sequence .

3. How is it possible that there is only two check post between Lahore and Karachi and it is so easy to fool those Pakistani policemen at those shedy small check post . I think that Hafeez Saeed unnecessarily went to Pakistan high court to ban this film in Pakistan I mean to say if Pakistani censor board had seen this sequence then they would had banned this film for showing Pakistani infrastructure and security agencies in poor way .

4. Climax is also fully filmy that Saif is hit by the bullet but there is no blood . Blood comes out only when Pakistani naval officers were gone .
But finally I liked that Taj tea sequence at the end of the film where at least Katrina gets two cup of tea for free and that too just outside the Taj hotel for completing this deadly mission .

This is my view thank you .

Bobby Sing

Dear Shubham,
Loved your detailed as well as entertaining analysis particularly the 'Wah Taj' one.
Hope many more friends would find it equally interesting and enjoyable.

Do keep writing in with the same spirit.

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