RRR Review | Movie – Empire
India in the 1920s. When British Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) kidnaps the child Malli (Twinkle Sharma) from her village, her brother Komaram Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr) promises to bring her back. During his mission, he forms a quick friendship with Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan), but Bheem is unaware of Raju’s hidden agenda.
If the detailed social realism of the Dardenne brothers represents a kind of cinema, RRR is its opposite. SS Rajamoulis’ three-hour plus epic is a revolt of outrageous plays, gravity-defying stunts, colors, song and dance, great emotions and a menagerie of CG animals. It feels like a movie that looks good in a clip on Twitter, but which is disappointing when you sit down and watch the whole thing. But do not be afraid – RRR (it stands for “Rise! Roar! Revolt!”) is a large, gaudy, sledgehammer-subtle piece of escapist cinema that is fun from first to last.
The plot, set in 1920s India, pits soldier Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and villager Komaram Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr) against the British Empire, represented by Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson, Terrible) and himself. more vengeful wife Catherine (Alison Doody, who uses a particularly nasty whip as a reminder of her Indiana Jones days), after the British kidnapped Bhem’s nanny. Raju and Bheem are introduced in a fantastic way – the former performs an in-camera version of The Matrix Reloaded” strong fights’ to apprehend a gal’un, the latter runs away from a wolf and then shouts down a tiger – and then gathers to rescue a little boy in a river on fire (do not ask) using a motorcycle, a horse, a rope and a ridiculous feat of timing that sets Spider man bridge rescues to shame. All this is the first half hour.
RRR never runs out of steam – the dust in the last jungle feels as fresh as the opening scene.
From here, the ingenuity and originality of the action escalates to dizzying levels, often completely unaware of the laws of physics. The quality of VFX is variable, but it does not matter, partly because Rajamouli has such a good eye for cheeky movie heroes and partly because it has so much spirit that it is easy to be taken with (it is to know that it is a fantastic dead ball while Raju beats Brit stooges while being hoisted up on Bheem’s shoulders).
Between the fights there are heavy-handed, John Woo-like themes (loyalty, brotherhood, identity), low comedy while Bheem tries to woo the English rose Jenny (Olivia Morris), and catchy musical numbers – the best of the gang is a dance-off while Raju and Bheem show Raj’s stiff shirts how it’s done. The plot is squeaky and the writing ham-fisted (“Take the special forces and nail the bastards”), but it wins the day thanks to Rajamoulis’ bravura, the infectious charisma of Charan and Rama Rao Jr., excellent filmmaking talent (MM Keeravani’s huge score, A. Sreeker Prasad’s driving editing) and the imagination of the stunt team. RRR never runs out of steam – the dust from the last jungle beat feels as fresh as the opening scene – which means that 185 minutes pass in the blink of an eye with a digital tiger eye.
It may have a flimsy relationship to nuances, but RRR is a bombastic delight. By making the Fast And Furious series look restrained for comparison, it hits the parts that Hollywood shareholders can’t reach. Ladder! Roar! Revelation!