Animal movie review: Ranbir Kapoor's action tale is flawed, overtly violent and misogynistic; yet it entertains
Animal movie review: If filmmaker Sandeep Reddy Vanga's Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh bothered you, wait till you watch his Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Animal.
Animal movie review: Violence reaches its zenith. Gore takes the centerstage. It's bloodbath all over. It's wild and wicked. Sandeep Reddy Vanga's much-awaited Animal has been unleashed sending Ranbir Kapoor in a devilish, menacing and unhinged avatar. Do we love him? Yes, of course! Do we resent him, hell yes! Animal's problematic premise has already been discussed since it's teaser and trailer were unveiled. What the full film offers is a series of events, emotions and sequences leading up to a rather underwhelming climax, which is so rushed that you keep waiting if something more is yet to come post the end credits. Also read: Animal movie review live updates
Animal is wild and wicked
Animal takes you on a bloody, noisy, gory and violent journey and for the large part of it, you don't complain. It just immerses you in its gripping tale and scale, but often leaves you in bewilderment each time the hero in is action. Glorified as an anti-hero, Ranvijay Singh (Ranbir Kapoor) idolises and worships his father Balbir Singh's (Anil Kapoor), and spends most of his childhood seeking his love and attention but all in vain. So daddy issues start pretty young in his life and have obvious repercussions on most of his formative years.
The premise and main charcaters
Cut to high school (through a flashback sequence), he had entered his sister's college with a gun to teach a lesson to those, who ragged her. As a punishment, he not only gets a series of tight slaps across his face from his dad, but is soon sent to a boarding school in the US. He returns for his father's 60th birthday but ends up in a scuffle with his brother-in-law Varun (Siddharth Karnick). Soon after, a love angle is introduced and he again flees to the US with is lady love Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna), as the families don't accept their inter-caste marriage.
He returns, once again, after eight years, following a shooting attack on his father, and he is no longer the same Ranvijay. The hair has grown (thankfully nothing odd about the wig here), the bearded look is making him look even more dashing and he has become far more ferocious, deadly and ruthless. Waging a war to kill Abrar Haque (Bobby Deol), who is after his father's life, Ranvijay is on a mission that nobody can stop him from achieving.
Ranbir Kapoor as an epitome of misogyny
If filmmaker Sandeep Reddy Vanga's Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh bothered you, wait till you watch Animal that presents Ranbir as an epitome of misogyny, and he has no qualms about it. Whether it's telling his younger sister to drink wine and not whiskey, or taking a jibe at the elder one, a Harvard graduate, for just saying , 'Chup raho, bas karo (Keep quiet)' in her marriage; he's loved, hated and misunderstood all at once. As the entitled, rich spoilt brat, Ranvijay considers himself the man in-charge after his father, so if the ladies of the houses (read sisters) are in any trouble, he would take law in his hand to serve people right.
Ranbir makes you fall for him
That being said, Ranbir is in top form, and becomes Sandeep Reddy Vanga Vanga's Animal in its truest sense. He is a fine blend of vulnerability and villainous traits. He instantly makes you fall for him, and even when he is getting shot or being punched in the face, you feel bad for him, and never wish for him to be dead.
In a scene, when Ranbir operates a high-tech fancy shooting machine killing over 300 heavily armed men, Sandeep aptly places a Kabir doha (bura jo dekhan main chala) making Ranbir's entry even more heroic. Nuances such as these uplift Animal at quite a few places. Oh, there's a subtle plug of 'Made in India' and Atmanirbhar Bharat too.
What does not work
At 3 hours 22 minutes, one of the longest films I watched in a very long time, Animal is determined to give you a headache as the high-pitched dialogues are certain to pierce through your ears causing discomfort. Then, there are portions you wish were underplayed – visually and verbally.
For instance, multiple references to male's pubic hair as a symbol of manhood isn't too pleasant. Or when Ranbir is discussing about his sex life with a psychologist post his accident. The screenplay that Sandeep has co-written with Pranay Reddy Vanga and Saurabh Gupta takes care of all gripping elements and ensures that each frame offers a cinematically visual treat. But, amid all this logic takes a backseat, and the story is continuously being dragged, especially in the second half.
One thing Bollywood has seamlessly normalised from DDLJ to Animal is the hero breaking into the girl's house and luring her into calling off her wedding. In Animal, slightly differently though, Ranvijay makes Geetanjali fall for him through a lesson on 'alpha males'. Quite cliched, but she's sold in no time, so much so that even if he comments, 'You have got a big pelvis', she doesn't really shut him up. Later, while eloping in a chartered plane, the two indulge in steamy lovemaking session, and once married, when Geetanjali asks how was it, Rannvijay doesn't flinch an eyelid while discussing that it was him who had a lot to manage as they were having sex against gravity and since the man was on top, she has nothing much to do.
The on-screen chemistry between Ranbir and Rashmika is definitely sizzling, but soon, Sandeep gets in his element showing his hero turn into a chauvinist and misogynist with so much ease, and then putting the idea of a toxic marriage on a pedestal. Whether it's him pulling her bra string multiple time and leaving her with bruises only to later calm her down, or him cheating her with another women but she coming back to kiss and caress him - this is taking the Kabir Singh legacy forward and multiplying it many times over. I was pretty impressed when in one scene Rashmika slaps him back, and a few in the theatre screamed, 'well deserved'. Maybe, our audiences no longer want to see such men being shown as heroes.
Among other parts, Anil Kapoor delivers an earnest performance, and he evidently was feeding off Ranbir's energy on screen. You'd find their scenes together relatable whether it's violent ones or the emotional bits. Among others, Charu Shankar as Ranvijay's mum, Anshul Chauhan and Saloni Batra as his sisters play their parts well. Prem Chopra and Shakti Kapoor in cameos make their presence felt, while Tripti Dimri in a special appearance is a treat to watch out for. Last but not the least, I felt cheated watching Bobby Deol's screen time. Firstly, he comes in the film only after 2.5 hours, and with barely two full-fledged scenes and no line to speak, I felt he was terribly wasted in what actually could have been the best opportunity to cash in. But, I must say, even in the two-three scenes we see Bobby in, he leaves you startled.
What I truly enjoyed throughout the film was BGM and the songs being played in the background, especially during the action sequences. Watch out for the 10-minute long fight between Ranbir and Bobby during the climax and the track Saari Duniya Jalaa Denge in B Praak's voice just makes it worth it. Papa Meri Jaan is another track you would instantly fall in love with and it is all heart.
Animal is an absolute massy, entertaining and extremely violent thriller which doesn't believe in conforming to the norms. The bloodshed isn't for the weak hearted to watch, so practice caution if you decide to watch it because there's a lot of it, and you might not be able to take that much.