This week's release Maximum features good actors lazily reeling off lines that go nowhere, writes Raja Sen.
The film opens with the word MAXIMUMBAI, suggesting either a superheroic clean-up lady or a city inundated by unminiskirts.
Lamentably enough, Kabeer Kaushik's cop thriller is neither of those potentially fun things, and not even really a thriller. It's a pity, for Kaushik's Sehar remains one of the most solid cop movies in recent years.
This one, however, tries too hard to appear 'intelligent,' which is why voices are softened and conversations are made matter-of-fact. The idea of corrupt cops facing off against each other can be a fine one, but mired here in the midst of people saying things really really slowly, it loses its steam.
A stubbly Vivek Mushran type rides a train with a sketchbook, but his subjects are cops -- more baton baton than Baaton Baaton Mein here, clearly. He works in a news channel, and befriends an exasperatingly calm top cop, played by Sonu Sood.
Sood, initially engaging but then channeling a young Shatrughan Sinha (while sounding like Raj Babbar), is a bad egg, but one of many.
His wife, played by Neha Dhupia, restricts her performance to picking out cotton saris, and his mistress, played by Anjana Sukhani, has the word Maa tattooed on her hand: what a terrific antithesis to the iconic Deewar scribble.
So we meet dirty cops. And more dirty cops. And their allies. And we hear of their plans. And it's all so deathly boring.
There is something to be said for clinical exposition that doesn't beat about the bush, but Maximum features good actors lazily reeling off lines that go nowhere.
An old man quotes Shakespeare and speaks of providence while politicians and cops talk between teacups, and some low-res newsclip footage of the 26/11 attacks are spliced in.
Somewhere, Naseeruddin Shah seethes, possibly at the lack of narrative heft.
In the end, almost like an afterthought, Kaushik realises he's left too many guns unfired, and things come to a head in a pointless hail of bullets, rivals trading fatal gunshots in turn, like polite ping-pong players.
The score? Nothing to love.