‘Turbo’ movie review: Weak screenplay holds back Mammootty’s charge


Mammootty in ‘Turbo’

Amid the high-octane yet monotonous background score in Turbo stands out the whirring sounds of someone stepping on the accelerator, which plays every time ‘Turbo’ Jose (Mammootty) is about to launch into one of his frequent fights. It is supposed to be a warning for what he is about to unleash, a means to build the anticipation. Though the promised action follows, all of it is built on such a weak foundation that one almost stops caring after a point, whether the vehicle hits top speed or not.

But, considering the fact that filmmaker Vysakh’s previous work was the disastrous Monster, what we get in Turbo is certainly an improvement. Turbo appears to work on the philosophy that the film only needs the bare minimum story, to have an excuse to showcase all the action set pieces and to fill the gaps between them. Screenwriter Midhun Manuel Thomas’s job here is to deliver just this. Thus, he does not get an opportunity to reverse the downward trajectory of his screenwriting career.

‘Turbo’ (Malayalam)

Director: Vysakh

Cast: Mammootty, Anjana Jayaprakash, Raj B.Shetty, Bindu Panicker, Shabareesh Varma

Run-time: 155 minutes 

Storyline: ‘Turbo’ Jose, who has a habit of getting into fights, crosses paths with Vetrivel Shanmuga Sundaram, a shadowy businessman, who is at the centre of a major banking scam

‘Turbo’ Jose is conceived as a regular guy from the high ranges, with a habit of getting into fights. After one such fight, it is revealed that the target of the goons was not Jose, but his friend Jerry (Shabareesh Varma), who is in love with Indulekha (Anjana Jayaprakash). Jose’s attempt to help his friend has unintended consequences, leading to the action shifting to Chennai. It is not long before their path crosses with that of Vetrivel Shanmuga Sundaram (Raj B. Shetty), a shadowy businessman who is attempting to capture power in Tamil Nadu through some good old horse-trading, which is much in vogue these days.

Vysakh and Midhun use the initial half of the film to set up this story without any ambiguities or grey shades, leaving the latter half for all the chases and long-winded action sequences. This ends up as one of the things which pulls down the film, for there really is no surprise in store after the banking scam at the centre of the plot is revealed. In what is an otherwise flat screenplay filled with all clichés, Midhun does slip in a few interestingly written bits, like Auto Billa (Sunil)’s Marlon Brando act in a rundown mall, where Jose reveals his true self to his boss or Jose’s narration of a traumatic episode from his childhood to explain the closeness with his mother (Bindu Panicker).

But, in the end, ‘Turbo’ will be remembered for recycling all the old tropes that have been part of this genre since time immemorial and for its reluctance to try anything new. Just like every second movie these days, this too ends with the promise of a sequel. As it is said about ‘Turbo’ Jose in the film, one has to give it to them for that level of confidence.

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