Pavithra Srinivasan feels despite several plot-holes, Samar works because of its entertaining plot.
The ancient, tried-and-trusted commercial, formulaic entertainers are now receiving newer, slicker coats of paint. It's not enough to just have a hero randomly destroy baddies, win the girl of his choice and walk away in a blaze of glory.
Director Thiru's Samar (Battle), produced by Jaya Balaji Real Media Pvt Ltd manages to wring out a tale that's entertaining and snappy, despite its flaws.
It begins much the way masala films usually begin: in Ooty, a group of rugged men enter a forest with saws to bring down trees, when an almost superhuman force seems to bash them all to the ground, in the form of Shakthi (Vishal), a forest ranger with muscles of steel.
And then, fortunately, matters veer away from the usual. Shakthi has a pretty girlfriend Rupa (Sunaina), who decides that he spends more time with the trees than her pretty self, and breaks up. She also leaves for Bangkok almost at once. Shakthi is left to brood over her loss, until a letter arrives from her to say she cannot forget him, and wants him to come to her.
An ecstatic Shakthi boards the plane right away, where he meets and bonds with Maya (Trisha), a fun-loving, enthusiastic girl who cherishes a fondness for him.
In Bangkok he searches for his lady love, meeting a cop (Sampath Raj) on the way, and is puzzled at her continued disappearance. It's at this point that he practically runs into a hail of bullets and discovers that he's stumbled into a maze he has no knowledge about.
From here begins a cat-and-mouse game that is definitely interesting, and though you can put together the clues after a certain point, the brisk screenplay never lets you pause.
Thankfully, there's no silly comedy track to distract, though the songs do hinder the proceedings. Later, the appearance of John Frederick (J D Chakravarthy) and Rajesh Arunachalam (Manoj Bajpai) provide some answers, which manage to tie up sundry loose ends.
Vishal, as a bewildered Shakthi does an excellent job when he's tearing his hair out at what's happening to him. Trisha, who somehow seems to get younger with every passing year, delivers a neat performance, with more to do than just your average heroine singing duets in foreign locales.
J D Chakravarthy and Manoj Bajpai have roles that are slightly different from the usual, but the amount of hamming they do, with exaggerated dialogues and gestures, gets on your nerves pretty soon. Subtlety certainly has no part to play here.
Yuvan Shankar Raja has come up with a score that plays along to the thriller genre but doesn't linger on in memory. Richard M Nathan's camera-work is snazzy, especially during the song sequences.
Samar has obviously been inspired by more than one Hollywood action/thriller, has several large plot-holes that simply cannot be overlooked and a climax that borders on the ridiculous.
But it does satisfy the most important criteria necessary to a commercial entertainer: it is slick, makes you get involved with the characters, and doesn't let you pause until almost the end.
In other words, it's ideal festival fare.