Commando 2 proves yet again that cinematic patriotism is the last refuge of the incompetent. Conceived months before demonetisation but perfectly suited as a propaganda vehicle for the government’s disciplinary measure, the sequel to the 2013 movie Commando has a ludicrous plot, banal dialogue, action sequences derived from Hollywood and East Asian cinema, and mostly sub-par acting. Only one thought emerges through the gloop: the black money economy is the only reason lakhs of Indians live in poverty. What if the money lining fake accounts could be directly transmitted to starving suicide-prone famers in some way?
The story is credited to Suresh Nair and the screenplay to Ritesh Shah, but the film could well have been written by a low-level Finance Ministry official looking for a pat on the head and a promotion. A prologue celebrates demonetisation and lauds its putative role in destroying black money. Vicky (Vansh Bhardwaj), a shadowy and powerful launderer, has been arrested in Thailand along with his wife Maria (Esha Gupta). Home Minister Leela (Shefali Shah), whose son is embroiled with the launderer, assembles a pliant team to bring Vicky and Maria back to India. The idea is to protect Vicky’s clients, rather than prosecute him, and cover the trail by killing him when the job is done. Bhaktawar (Freddy Daruwala) is a yes man, Sumit Gulati is a clueless hacker, and Bhavna (Adah Sharma) is a corrupt encounter specialist. Karan (Vidyut Jammwal), the maverick Indian Army commando from the first movie¸ forcibly joins the team to ensure that justice is done.
Since the film is about action, rather than acting, it is fitting that we first see Jammwal’s muscular arms and then his face. Jammwal belongs to the tradition of granite-faced action heroes who can barely utter dialogue and are happiest landing kicks and punches. An older version of Tiger Shroff, Jammwal leaps into the air, slides on the ground, and whirls around like a minor tornado even when his target is standing right in front of him. Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned punch on the chin?
Jammwal works hard to make Karan count, but he is defeated each time he has to open his mouth. The talented Adah Sharma, stereotyped as a bimbo with a gun, has the most fun. Bhavna has nothing more to do than bat her eyelashes at Karan and change her costumes in every other scene, but director Deven Bhojani and Ritesh Shah compensate for her sexist character by giving her funny lines that ring more true than Karan’s nationalistic dialogue.
Also enjoying herself is Esha Gupta as Maria, the black money queen who has an unlimited supply of fitting gowns and a high-backed leather chair that follows her everywhere she goes. Commando 2 is recommended viewing for the Finance Ministry, fans of actresses who steal scenes from under the noses of their bulky heroes, and advocates of films that are extensions of the government’s Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity department. Its efforts to make sense of and communicate a solution for the black money economy is even less competent than the government’s authoritarian measure.