Vijay's Thalaivaa is Rehashed Godfather
First Day First Show Review
The authority of a man, who runs a parallel government in Mumbai, is challenged. His son rises to face his enemies. This is the one-liner for Bachchan's Sarkar(Hindi). Without changing a word, this applies precisely for Vijay's Thalaivaa as well. Thalaivaa has also liberally borrowed a number of memorable scenes from evergreen classics such as Nayagan, Devar Magan released more than a couple of decades ago.
Breezy First Half
Thalaivaa has breezy first half with an entertaining mix of comedy, love, dance, and fun with delightful visuals and song picturizations. Vijay looks charming and dances gracefully. Vijay's comedy scenes with Santhanam is fantastic as usual. Santhanam brings the house down when he says "I am waiting". Sam Anderson's cameo and Santhanam calling him a "Poor Star" and how such folks emerge as sleeper cells are highlights that keep the first half light and engaging. Vijay and Amala Paul chemistry works well. Amala Paul is expressive and looks refreshing. Stylish Costume designs for all lead characters deserve a special mention.
The story doesn't make any efforts to inch forward until the last few minutes of the first half. Sathyaraj underplays in his limited screen time and yet plays a pivotal role in the movie. The twist towards the end of first half is probably the most engaging moments of the movie.
Vijay's Effortless Dancing
The songs during the first half is picturized well. The best visualized song of the movie is the theme music when Vijay and Amala Paul with a fractured leg practices for a dance competition. The theme song is shot poetically as the lead pair impresses with their fluid dance moves. Another well-picturized song is the "Yaar Indha Saalai Oram". "Tamil Pasanga" set in Sydney gets a bit repetitive due to dull-locations and repetitive shots but salvaged by creative choreography(e.g., salute step) and Vijay's subtle dance movements enacting the essence of the lyrics. Vijay dances effortlessly and has sung "Vaangana Vanakkangna" song like a true professional. Watch out for GV Prakash's friendly appearance for a few seconds as he shakes his leg sporting his signature grin. As one would expect, "Thalapathy Thalapathy" is a montage song showing the growth of the don. Even though the concept and situations in this song are cliched, it does help the story move forward.
Second half falls flat
The second half is when most of the weaknesses pop-up. Vijay's underplay of his don role, limited screen time for Santhanam, and lack of sparking chemistry with Amala Paul brings the pace down. The hackneyed plot and lack of novelty between the villain and Vijay's source of contention further drags the movie. Even the supposedly racy episode involving Vijay and the Villain trying to get hold off the missing video tape feels contrived. The casting choice and lack of a formidable villain doesn't help the cause either.
The camera work by Nirav Shah and technical department during the second half continue to take the clean and standoffish approach which makes it impersonal. A bit more rawness could have helped. Finally, wish the movie's running time of 2 hours 50 minutes had been reduced by 30 minutes.
Director Vijay continues to be openly inspired by classics
It is a surprise why Director Vijay choose to delve on such a familiar script without making much efforts to infuse freshness in scenes nor treatment. The story is precisely what one would have expected to see on the screen after watching the trailer. Director Vijay doesn't deviate a bit from the beaten path. Many of the familiar scenes from classics have been faithfully reproduced without changing the scenes, settings nor the shot angles. The dialogues show some sparks intermittently. However, Sathyaraj's oft-repeated philosophy around yielding a weapon can destroy or protect is mouthed around 4 times during the course of the movie.
Bottomline: Watch it for Breezy First Half