Leo: Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Directorial Vision Does Action Wonders with Thalapathy Vijay in Command

INDIA: Bloody Sweet! The craze and hype for Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Leo is on the next level, with theatres jam-packed on the morning shows. This not only shows us the stardom of Thalapathy Vijay but also the directorial prowess of Lokesh Kanagaraj, which he has developed in such a short span of time.

When it comes to crafting a cinematic universe, which is a current trend in Indian Cinema, Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU), without a doubt, stands on top of all. Yes, Leo is an LCU film. Keeping aside the LCU connection, the action-hinged story has a lot to offer, from Thalapathy’s acting range to the crazy camera work. So, let’s see what Kanagaraj has packed for the masses this time.

Vijay and Lokesh’s team up: A perfect action recipe in ‘Leo’

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The opening scene of a criminal gang killing the commissioner in a brutal way sets the tone and intensity of Leo. The violence and mayhem quickly grab our attention, which glues our eyes to the screen, and then the story begins.

Leo
Photo Credit: X/Dir_Lokesh

The talented star cast pours into the acting department, with Vijay being the Thalapathy of the story. Given Kanagaraj’s vision in Master, he has once again perfectly balanced the stardom and the story while pulling out the best performances of Vijay as Parthiban and Leo Das, ranging from action to emotion.

Leo
Screen grab of trailer. Photo Credit: YouTube/Sun TV

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Vijay beautifully shows dread, rage, and fear in every scene, and after such a long time, we have got to see him playing a character with multiple sets of emotions. Especially the scene where he shouts in anger as well as fear with blood on his face truly flourishes out on screen and perfectly presents his acting range. This can be considered his peak to date.

Coming back to Lokesh’s directorial vision, he has currently mastered such a power in storytelling that he has literally converted a hyena into a character—not just an ordinary character, but one such that its entry into the climax bagged cheers from the audience in theatre.

Leo
Screen grab of trailer. Photo Credit: YouTube/Sun TV

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If we look at the intricacy of his vision, he has filled a CGI character with a soul, which is rare in most filmmakers. His writing prowess, along with that of Rathna Kumar and Deeraj Vaidy, has done a great job. The rarest of things he has penned can be considered a dark touch in such a mass cinema, which is the whole human sacrifice thing showcased in Sanjay Dutt’s Antony Das. Such bold steps need guts, and props to Kangaraj; he has managed them wonderfully.

Leo
Screen grab of trailer. Photo Credit: YouTube/Sun TV

Trisha Krishnan is also there as the leading lady in Leo. Though her character may not be wielding a gun or performing action sequences, it carries one of the most significant parts, the emotional aspects of the story. After such a long time, we get to see a beautiful chemistry between the lead characters, which was missing in Kaithi and Vikram.

Sanjay Dutt and Arjun Sarja play the big baddies, who are on the hunt for Vijay’s Leo Das. Struck by the duality of Leo and Parthiban, the mayhem they wreak in the story adds volume. Both give their best, and oh boy, their stardom continues to rule.

Leo
Screen grab. Photo Credit: YouTube/Sony Music South

The theatre erupted with whistles and cheers when Sarja was showcased smoking a cigarette and slowly turning his face to the screen. Same for Dutt; the way he walks and his persona dominate the screen, shows his villainous aura. It was splendour spiced with thrills to witness his first interaction with Vijay after the interval.

Leo
Screen grab. Photo Credit: YouTube/Sony Music South

The technical department was on steroids, with Anirudh once again turning his BGM into a character. The “Badass” song playing during the mention of Leo or Dutt and Sarja’s specific theme with a spooky hymn-like touch tells us why Anirudh is the Music Maverick of Tamil Cinema.

The cinematography by Manoj Paramahamsa takes Leo to a whole new level. The camera shots specifically showcase the POV of characters and guns—yes, guns too—elevating the artfulness. The editing by Philomin Raj, blending with Paramahamsa’s cinematography, creates wonders with the two shots showcased in split-screen that transform some scenes into a comic book panel.

Keeping aside all these aspects, now comes the action—the soul of Leo. The duo of Anbariv breathed life into the film via their action and stunt choreography. The fight sequences showcased are the literal definition of high-octane, and when they are combined with Paramahamsa’s camera work, what we witness on screen is visual brilliance. The entire fighting scene in Das & Co. with drone shots and the car chase sequence with Vijay skyrockets our entire movie experience.

The best element is that the action scenes are not turned into a mixed bag of random hand moments but a well-arranged smorgasbord of shots that give pleasure to our eyes. Another bonus factor is that the violence with blood spilling out is the cherry on top.

What could have been better?

Having said loads of positive things about Leo, can’t hide its major flaws. Yes, there are major flaws that were not expected in a Lokesh Kanagaraj film. The biggest blunder in the story happens in the second half. Characters jump from one location to another at 2x speed in the most possible generic way. Some characters appear without a proper introduction and are killed, which doesn’t make us worry about their fate.

The villain element with Dutt and Sarja does well on a performance level, but character-wise, it falls flat. Their motives are just set to one point, which is that they had to do anything to make Parthiban accept that he is Leo by saying, “Accept it, you are Leo.’’ Literally, they are shouting in the second half, and the way both are defeated in the end feels rushed. Both can be considered the weakest villains in LCU.

Verdict:

Lokesh Kanagaraj-directed Leo showcases the best of Thalapthy Vijay with steroid-filled, crazy action sequences. However, the errors in the second half deviate it from becoming the best of Kanagaraj’s work, which ranks it below Vikram and Kaithi in LCU. In a nutshell, Leo can be termed Kanagaraj’s best of best and worst of worst. Albeit its drawbacks, it’s an entertaining ride that pumps our experience along with curiosity about what the filmmaker has kept for future films.

Transcontinental Times rating: 3.8/5

Also Read: From LCU to ‘A History of Violence’: Things You Need to Know about ‘Leo’ before Its Release

Originally posted 2023-10-20 10:36:36.


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