Jailer (2023) Film Review: A Screenplay with Excessive Self-Importance and Lack of Originality

Jailer (2023) Film Review

At some point during the second half of Jailer (2023), there’s a scene where Rajnikant portrays Tiger, who advises a film director to create family-friendly movies rather than the trash currently being produced.

This sequence, while a meta-commentary on mainstream cinema, reveals the filmmaker’s self-importance and arrogance. It’s absurd to advocate for wholesome family entertainment in a film that glorifies violence.

Unlike the creative and self-aware violence in movies like John Wick and Quentin Tarantino’s works, this film’s violence is solely focused on depicting heinous ways to kill people, relying on gimmicks and causing unease when the audience loudly cheers for Rajnikant’s actions.

I reluctantly adopt a critical tone when discussing a film, but this time, I’m genuinely concerned and unable to find any appreciation for it. Although I may not have the same exposure to cinema culture as individuals from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Kerala, I share their passion.

It had been a long-standing desire of mine to watch a Rajnikant film in a theater with a regional audience. As Rajnikant enters the screen, the hall erupts with enthusiasm, and I enjoy the frenzy. This celebratory chaos reflects a cultural phenomenon built over decades, providing endless joy, escapism, and hope for millions.

However, this excitement soon turns monotonous as the film uses repetitive techniques to recreate moments defining Rajnikant, although in this case, the cigarette he catches in his mouth is merely a computer-generated illusion.

Nelson brings together three major superstars: Shivaraj Kumar from Kannada cinema, Mohanlal from Malayalam cinema, and of course, Rajnikant from Tamil cinema. These actors possess undeniable charm and magnetism that captivates the audience.

Despite watching the film with a mostly Tamil-speaking audience, the thunderous applause upon Mohanlal and Shivaraj Kumar’s entry indicates a joyous cultural exchange facilitated by cinema.

My primary issue with this film revolves around its excessive focus on gore, devoid of entertainment value or self-awareness. The disturbing nature of the visuals, combined with the presence of a significant number of children in the audience, raises concerns about the potential negative impact on their developing minds.

Filmmakers must be aware of their target audience’s age when presenting violent content to either cater to families appropriately or ensure certification authorities are attentive to a film’s content.

No child should witness scenes of people locked in drums and sulfuric acid poured on them, or beheadings and skull-crushing with hammers. Personally, I fail to see any merit in depicting various ways to harm and torture unless the imagery is self-critical, acknowledging the consequences of violence for both the victim and the perpetrator.

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Regrettably, Rajnikant’s character is an executor, and his actions are glorified. Every time he kills someone, the theater erupts in cheers and whistles. This seems to be the film’s objective: celebrating its cultural icon.

However, this celebration comes at a significant cost that the film industry must recognize. Displaying violence inherently isn’t problematic or immoral; it often serves a purpose. The issue lies in portraying violence as a solution to societal problems rather than highlighting it as a consequence of violence itself.

When violence is depicted as a solution, it must be justified within the narrative framework, aligning with honesty, discipline, and integrity. Unfortunately, the codes associated with the violent protagonist are often distorted to elevate them to divine status, as is the case with Rajnikant’s character.

His actions are accepted without scrutiny, requiring the victimization of the hero to make this plausible.

Moreover, the film propagates incorrect ideas as morally upright ones. Physical violence is portrayed as a method of reform, and incarceration is presented as a noble cause. Sacrifice is taken to extreme levels, where a father willingly sacrifices his son to uphold his moral code. However, these notions simply stem from a self-righteous attitude that lacks healthy discussion.

While I personally didn’t appreciate the cameos, I must acknowledge that the film has a few genuinely funny moments, most of which belong to Vinakayan’s performance as Varman.

The only person on-screen who genuinely seemed cool to me was Shivaraj Kumar. Strangely, Tamil and Malayalam directors often depict film actors as bald or wearing wigs for comedic purposes. It is ironic because the film’s protagonist, Nelson, seeks to honor an aging man, Rajnikant, who himself wears a wig due to his baldness.

Rajnikant has shifted to playing grandfather or father roles, yet he remains firmly entrenched as the hero with long, glossy hair. The film’s intention to honor and celebrate Rajnikant contradicts the mockery it indirectly makes of wig-wearing film directors/actors.

I absolutely adored Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Vikram (2022), which paid tribute to Kamal Hasan. That film exemplified a screenplay that admired its subject while staying self-aware. Unfortunately, Jailer (2023), directed by Nelson, comes across as more delusional than self-aware.

Additionally, it stands as one of the most poorly shot films I have seen lately. I express my disappointment over not sharing the appreciation for this film, and I hope we can stop celebrating film stars if it entails exploiting the audience’s sentiments and their parasocial relationship with these icons.

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