The latest Ajith Kumar movie whose title begins with the alphabet V is both va va vroom vroom and waaah waaah. When not chasing a gang of rogue bikers, Ajith Kumar’s police officer Arjun is wiping the tears off his mother’s cheeks or berating his alcoholic elder brother and his unemployed younger brother.

Arjun is described as a “super police” and “people’s police”, but he is a “bore police” too, as the villain correctly notes. Played by Kartikeya Gummakonda, the criminal mastermind is to the Tamil movie Valimai what John Abraham was to the Hindi-language Dhoom (2004): the charismatic leader of a band of asphalt-burners. The gang kills, maims and steals at will, and has Chennai in its deadly grasp – until Arjun steps in.

With the help of his deputy Sophia (Huma Qureshi), aided by his expertise with both technology and bike-riding, Arjun gets closer to unmaking the gang leader. The bikers helpfully leave a cyber-trail that leads right up to their door and carry off massive heists that draw the attention of the police to their methods.

The bikes defy gravity and the plot, logic. From cops who wait for signals to open during a high-stakes chase to an escort vehicle carrying important criminals that sets off without armed back-up or communication devices, Valimai underestimates its audience ever so often. The enervating soap operatics involving Arjun’s family drive the runtime up to 178 minutes – unforgivably long and completely unearned.

Sporting a determined look at all times and alternating between salt-and-pepper hair and the occasional dye job, Ajith Kumar soldiers on in vain. Except for a handful of pulsating action sequences and a villain who is nearly equal in capabilities to the hero, Valimai has trouble kicking into gear.

Valimai (2022).