Rajinikanth, returns with a commendable performance, through Nelson’s trademark dark comedy revenge family drama. The film brings back the magic of Baasha (1995) and a slew of cameos, but not without its occasional bumps.
The movie introduces us to Muthuvel Pandian, retired Jailer, effectively underplayed by Rajinikanth. The story is loosely set against the backdrop of antique statue smuggling racket. After a few light moments, the story cruises ahead as a revenge drama gripping the audience's attention in the first half.
The first half hits the bullseye just like the sniper hits their targets in the interval block. The second half begins with a brief flashback, an excuse to show the yester-year Rajini, re-living the character of fearless Alex Pandian of Moondru Mugam (1982). Rajini’s unmatched charisma, subdued punchlines are quite effective.
Even though the twists in the second half appear to be a bit forced, it does serve the purpose of keeping it interesting. Sunil and Tamannah portion cause the movie's tempo to slow down despite the groovy dance moves of Tamannah in the charbuster Kaavaala song. While Sunil’s slapstick performances may have a few laughs out moments, but the screenplay meanders from the main theme and, hence diluting the overall impact in the second half.
The much-anticipated trio of cameos, Mohan Lal, Jackie Shroff, and Shiva Rajakumar, make a remarkable appearance. Among the three cameos, Shiva Rajakumar's stands out and his screen presence with Rajinikanth add an extra dynamism to the movie. The decision to cast leading heroes from regional industries appears overtly pandering to the masses of regional movie industries.
Vinayakan will make you hate him justifying over the top violence in the way Rajini chops off the heads, hands and ear of bad elements. Vinayakan is essentially the primary reason for the first half to be spectacular. A noteworthy villainous performance after a long time. Ramya Krishnan, Taramani fame Vasanth Ravi, and VTV Ganesh did their part well.
As the story unravels through the second half, the script embarks on a winding road, with twists and turns that often feel forced. Yet, it is these same twists that keep the audience engaged. The climax had the possibilities of alternate endings and finally ends on a somewhat melancholic note.
Anirudh’s background music is a huge positive as he ably elevates Rajini’s performance through the music. The director captures the raw emotion by having tight close-ups of Rajinikanth's performances, ably elevated by Anirudh’s background music. The camera work and art direction are noticeably good while the set design for most part is raw and realistic. Rajini’s make-up and probably computer graphics to make him look young is jaw-dropping.
The director masterfully crafts a story that keeps the audience invested till the very end. It is a testament to Rajinikanth's magnetic screen presence and ability to anchor even the most incredulous scenes.
By the end of first half, Jailer had all the elements to become Rajini's all time best movies. However, the pace slacks and settles to a decent watch worthy movie by the time it reaches the climax.