Movie Review: Phantom Lacks the Thrills Needed for a Good ‘Thriller’

Phantom is the story of an Indian secret service agent, operating in stealth mode, to avenge the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India.

Directed by: Kabir Khan

Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub

**

Phantom is the story of an Indian secret service agent operating undercover to avenge the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan), is an ex-Army man recruited by the secret service’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to covertly find and eliminate those who planned the attacks. The mission is the brainchild of young, up-and-coming officer Samit Mishra (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), is also backed by an a former agent, Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif).

The plot, inspired by Hussain Zaidi's book Mumbai Avengers, follows Khan as he travels the globe, killing suspects in locations including a swanky neighbourhood in London, a jail in Chicago, war-torn Syria and, in a long, drawn-out climax, on the streets of Islamabad.

The screenplay of Phantom, although gripping to begin with, quickly loses steam as events grow increasingly predictable and the body count, blood and gore mount with each frame.

For a spy thriller, the film isbe missing some much-needed edge-of-the-seat excitement. Everything just follows a set pattern as Daniyal’s targets are easily eliminated.

Khan and Kaif deliver decent but unremarkable performances. Khan in particular needs a big hit to revitalise his fledging career after a series of flops – Phantom might not be able to deliver the goods on that front.

Even the supporting cast is uninspiring, with Ayyub, playing the jingoistic RAW operative, monotonous and underwhelming.

Phantom is director Kabir Khan's second film this year, following last month's super-successful Bajrangi Bhaijaan. While both films are based on the Indo-Pak relationship, their approach couldn't be more different, with Bajrangi preaching the language of love as the way to tackle the issue, while Phantom is more in the "eye-of-an-eye" mindset.

Phantom lacks Kabir's usual crisp direction style and his emotional connect with the audience. He lets the film drift on quite a few occasions, and a tighter edit would have made the difference.

The music, composed by Pritam, is decent but not groundbreaking. It blends well with the plot, enhancing the narrative – without being loud or intrusive. The song Sawar, sung by Arijit Singh, deserves a special mention, and is sure to become one of this year's big hits.

On the whole, Phantom had all the right ingredients to be a memorable film – but fails to rise above mediocre, owing to dull direction and insipid performances.

artslife@thenational.ae

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