Valimai by Ajith Kumar directed by H Vinoth is a lukewarm affair poorly produced

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Police officer Arjun (Ajith Kumar), we are told, does things differently. He despises dating. Awesome! But he also wants to reform criminals in the form of crash courses. Crime in Chennai has increased exponentially and Arjun steps in to do something about it. There’s not really any imagination here other than the set up of the Bike Mafia, their modus operandi and a sectarian leader. It’s really more sectarian than mafia (low-lever bikers even salute and claim Kartikeya as their “leader”). Vinoth says they are unemployed graduates who have turned to a world of crime, stripped of any emotion or ideology. Of course, the troubled economy, neoliberalism, class and caste differences will lead to increased crime, but Vinoth waters down the concepts to a bare minimum. Why is there unemployment? We hear snippets of dialogue about people in other states stealing jobs. Arjun’s brother Kutty laments that he can’t clean the tables lest his friends come and sit on that table. So, is he the problem and not the system, whatever it is, if they have found a job? Vinoth explains none of this.

We can say that it is a real fight for Vinoth and his star Ajith. He has an idea on paper but there is no writing to flesh it out or even support it. Where does the character of Kartikeya come from, what was his background? What was Arjun’s background outside of this big family? There is a snippet of informal dialogue between Sofia (Huma Qureshi), an officer in the narcotics bureau, and Arjun, but we have no feedback on that past.

Theeran Adhigaram Ondru had a mesmerizing action set on top of a bus and Valimai with its teases of motorcycles and car chases promised a lot. Sadly, there’s no real thrill in a setting. Vinoth films them in a very simple way, there are quick cuts galore and we don’t see Arjun go from point A to point B all at once so that the action is fluid and keeps us on the edge of our seats. During a dirt bike action sequence, he keeps cutting to a top view that does nothing. Sofia, on the other hand, gets such a scene with a gun drawn, stepping out and landing a few punches as she exits a vehicle. Some scenes are unintentional comedic bloopers. Chennai’s control room or wherever this state-of-the-art team sits looks like a miniature version of an 80s space movie.

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