LEO Review - Celebration of Violence
Vijay is a bakery shop owner who lives in the small fictitious town of Theog in northern India with his loving wife Trisha, teenage son, and daughter. One night, a killer gang under Mysskin and Master Sandy attempt to rob the shop. When a waitress and her daughter's lives are threatened, Vijay deftly kills the gang with surprising skill and precision. He is hailed as a hero by his family, judge, and the townspeople, and the incident makes him a local celebrity…
The above is a starting portion of the synopsis of History of Violence from Wikipedia and the characters names replaced with that of the Tamil version. The story of Leo is same as that of History of Violence. Hope the team bought the formal rights before remaking it in Tamil. Lokesh credits History of Violence in the title as an inspiration probably to wash away the guilt.
The best moments of the movie are all reserved for the first half. This is yet another movie evoking the vibes of Badshah as Vijay who leads a simple life with an illustrious past of involvement in nefarious activities. Everyone except a handful of characters are in the spectrum of bad to outright evil. The second half becomes a bit repetitive with similar situations keep unfolding and it doesn’t have the same level of engagement as the first half.
Vijay is in killer form as he effortlessly delivers yet another action-packed performance. Despite his wig, which we get somewhat used to it as the movie progresses, his presence is towering in every frame. The way he fights the CG generated hyena in the opening sequence is gripping and real. Vijay looks sharp in the brief flashback portion. He gets out of his comfort zone and tries to deliver in a few emotional scenes with Trisha. Overall, this is an out and out Vijay movie from start to finish.
Beyond Vijay, Sandy Master with his cold-blue eyes delivers the best performance as an evil villain. Arjun’s body language and Sanjay Dutt’s naturally rugged look all helps the characterization of Das’ clan. Trisha, Priya Anand, and Madonna Sebastian do their supporting roles to tilt the balance of exceedingly high testosterone levels in the movie. The movie is filled with popular directors including Gautham Menon, Mysskin and Anurag Kashyap (shortest cameo). The introduction of George Maryan as Napolean probably gets the most claps and whistles after Vijay.
Lokesh has excellent command over the medium as he is confident in his narration style. He has repeated a few quirkiness that has worked for him in the past, such as playing a melody background track during an intense fight sequence in his bakery. The recall to Kaithi and Vikram as part of interconnecting the LCU receives thunderous applause. The climax recall to LCU is definitely a master stroke (no spoiler). Lokesh's influence from Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood can be seen when Vijay walks on the roof and removes the shirt to fix a camera.
One cannot imagine this movie without Anirudh’s high octane background score. Anirudh continues to be the backbone of recent major hit movies in Tamil and Hindi. The camera work by Manoj Paramahamsa does an excellent job in elevating the energy. A few low light chasing scenes involving CG work look grainy and a bit choppy. Anbariv’s trademark blood-dripping stunt sequences have become his signature. Another exceptional work by Anbariv following consecutive hits in recent times. Editing is paramount in a movie like Leo with numerous shots and fast action sequences.
This will be yet another hit to Lokesh’s winning streak. Leo will also go down as the least original work among Lokesh's works till date.
Rating: 3 / 5