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Leo review: Vijay shoulders Lokesh's vision

Owner of a cafe in Himachal Pradesh is mired in trouble after he defends himself from a few murderers at his shop. While he is known as Parthiban to the people of the town, for the last two decades, a gang that lands there claims he is Leo, a dreaded killer who once ran a mafia empire in the south along with his father and uncle

Leo review: Vijay shoulders Lokeshs vision

Still from 'Leo'

Cast: Vijay, Trisha Krishnan, Arjun Sarja, Sanjay Dutt, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Mysskin, Priya Anand, Mathew Thomas, Sandy, Baby Iyal, Mansoor Ali Khan, George Mariyan, and Madonna Sebastian

Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj

Music director: Anirudh Ravichander

Rating- 3/5

Vijay's second film of the year, Leo, opened after wading through its fair share of pre-release issues, which the actor would have gotten used to by now. However, his second collaboration with Lokesh Kanagaraj after Master (2021), has been hyped a lot. Hence, the question since its release on Thursday was whether the film has lived up to the hype.

Ten minutes into the film that opens in a snowy little town in Himachal Pradesh, we don't get the feel, as Lokesh has deviated from the mass opening and intro song routine that fans have been made to consume from a Vijay film over the years. Instead, Leo opens with small-time gangsters killing a Collector and creating trouble in a cafe run by Parthiban (Vijay), who is an animal rescuer as well.

We are introduced to Parthiban's world, which is his family. He is mostly seen accompanied by his wife Sathya (Trisha) and his kids, Siddharth (Mathew Thomas) and Chintu (Baby Iyal). Later, he fights off a hyena that enters a school compound. After the incident, he is hailed as a hero. But within a few minutes, he is surrounded by trouble when he performs an accurate act of self-defence while facing the gangsters inside his cafe.

Thereon, Leo's story follows the template of age-old Tamil cinema, but still manages to enthrall us for a decent amount of time in the first half. The film is action-packed and violent, as Parthi severs heads and limbs of those who pose a threat to his family.

In these scenes, Vijay as a father and a middle-aged man puts up a remarkable performance. Trisha, Gautham Menon and others, too, join the game. From the first scene, we could see that Leo is inspired by A History of Violence as well as Tamil movies from the 90s. Still, Leo is refreshing and keeps us intrigued till the interval. This is where Antony Das (Sanjay Dutt) and Harold Das (Arjun Sarja), who run a drug cartel in the south, come across Parthiban's image and recognise him as their long-lost family member, Leo Das.

As we mentioned, you would know what Leo has to offer in the second half. Yes, Antony goes in search of Parthiban and tries to make him admit that he is Leo. Parthiban constantly denies and violence follows. The second half becomes a drag, as we start getting used to the milieu and characters (some of them make it tedious with their limited emotional range).

But Vijay keeps the momentum alive. So does Anirudh, who, like Vijay, infuses various arcs and emotions to the story with his music. Trisha as Sathya has unlocked another new dimension to her acting and tells us why she is the undisputed choice of filmmakers. Her chemistry with Vijay remains evergreen.

With all these taking place, we head towards the climax, which is where Leo, the film, takes a bit of a backseat and the larger-than-life image of the actor dominating the story and the making. But Arjun as Harold Das is a saving grace in climax. Do not leave the theatres, as a surprise awaits you at the end. Overall, Leo is a commercial potboiler that is a decent one-time watch. Vijay, along with interestingly written characters, manages to cross the line.

Kaushik Rajaraman
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