You do not expect serious cinema in superhero movies. Such films, by definition, stretch what is credible in order to entertain. But you do expect a modicum of regard for believability of the story. The narrative is such that whatever happens in the film seems plausible as long as you are in the theatre. You get engulfed in a world where impossible becomes possible. The problem with 2.0 is that it is incredible right from the start.
The film comes straight to the point with cell phones zipping out of peoples’ hands and combining together to form a giant bird hell bent on massive destruction and even a few killings. When even the army is unable to contain the terror, the government turns to Dr. Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth) who in turn resurrects his robot Chitti (Rajinikanth again) to fight the villain. They have an android Nila (Amy Jackson) to help the pair in their fight. For a long time, all we see is phones zipping away and combining to form shifting shapes or whatever the VFX will allow, which is literally anything the mind can imagine. It’s a while before we see the villain, imaginatively named Pakshi Rajan (Akshay Kumar). Originally a professor, his love for birds makes him decide to wipe out the human race. How Dr. Vaseegaran, Chitti and another variant Kutti (Rajinikanth in a third avatar) take on Pakshi Rajan forms the rest of the story.
The film hashes valid concerns with its own mumbo jumbo to create a mix that makes you wonder if this is a kid’s film. Apparently you can combine the atomic charge to the aura of a person to create a positive frequency that a negative person cannot tolerate. I tried hard to understand this logic but I think you need the genius of Dr. Vaseegaran to figure it out. To their credit, both Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar are the strengths of the film. Rajinikanth has a natural charm and a following that is unrivalled. The response from the audience when Rajini appeared on screen in both the avatars was phenomenal. Akshay makes his character interesting, especially with the back story to his transformation. Amy Jackson is suitably devoid of any expression, given that she is playing a robot.
A lot of money has gone in the production and it shows. Despite the opulence, the screenplay is pedestrian. Grandeur can help only so much, the lack of content is acutely felt after 30 minutes or so. Shankar, by a stroke of genius, had created Chitti- a Rajinikanth who is unencumbered by age, time and human frailties. Theoretically the two Rajinis can make the cash register jingle. But the writing needs to do justice to his hero. Pouring money in special effects may pull the audience briefly, but they will be less wowed once the Hollywood superhero franchises have firmly entrenched themselves in India (especially dubbed in local languages). The climactic fight between Chitti and Pakshi Rajan reminded me so much of the Power Ranger series – and that is not exactly a compliment.
Thanks to the big names, the film may get the initial footfalls, but will it turn a profit on the huge budget of over 500 crores? With anybody other than Rajinikanth, the answer would be a resounding no. With Thalaiva at the helm, anything is possible.