Rating: 6/10 (Ludicrous Soccer with Women's Empowerment)
Cast: Ilayathalapathy Vijay, Nayantara, Jackie Shroff, Arjan Bajwa, Yogi Babu, Daniel Balaji, Anandraj, and others
Written and Directed by: Atlee
Music: AR Rahman
Producers: Kalpathi S. Aghoram, S. Ganesh, S. Suresh
Banner: AGS and East Coast
Thalapathy Vijay's movies are now arguably the event movie of the year after Superstar Rajinikanth in Tamil Cinema. His latest movie, Bigil reunites him with Atlee after Theri and Mersal and the actor director due are looking to make it a hatrick in their combination. With Atlee emerging as one of India's biggest young directors and Vijay in full form, can this sports drama deliver the good and emerge successful? Let's find out this review.
Plot: A former player turned coach Michael Rayappan (Vijay) is tasked with coaching and turning around the fortunes of the Tamil Nadu Women's football team.
Performances: Playing 2 diff roles in Micheal and Rayappan, Thalapathy Vijay is excellent as always. His ever reliable screen presence and charm makes him a delight to watch and he carries Bigil much like Mersal and Theri. He is at ease as Micheal. But as Rayappan, the superstar seems a little unconvincing with a stammer. However the look and hairstyle are refreshing too. However, his acting in the beginning of the film may get on your nerves the slightest. It borders overaction.
Nayantara gets more than the typical commercial heroine and does well as the team's physiotherapist.
Jackie Shroff as the villian is weak and underutilized completely. His interactions with Vijay are all mind games and nothing more with routine tactics.
Yogi Babu and Vivek do their best to make you laugh and they succeed to an extent.
Daniel Balaji plays a role he's done 100 times by now and is adequate.
Yesteryear villain Anandraj is just there and makes the most of what he has.
All the female actors cast for the soccer team are apt and do very well especially if this the debut for some of them.
Direction: This is Atlee's 4th film overall and 3rd consecutive film with Vijay. As with any Atlee movie, you know what to expect. The young director will never bring anything new or out of the box in terms of story and it's all a predictable fare. Where he does succeed is in the emotions. Despite the routine story, Atlee's strength is action and emotions, which are the two elements that need to click in order to make action movies and big star movies work so to speak. There are some solid emotional scenes that will make you tear up. He's probably one of the only directors in Kollywood who knows how to use Vijay to the maximum and he utilizes him to the full extent here. His command over his technical team is clearly visible. However, the story has a lot of fluff and extra scene which results in a painfully long narrative clocking in at 3 hours. There are many unnecessary scenes at times. For any action movie to work, you need a strong villain and this film doesn't have one. Jackie Shroff is more a puppet than a menacing villain. The biggest flaw is within the soccer scene was are WAY TOO CINEMATIC in the end. More on that later. Overall, Atlee knows his strengths and plays to them well and succeeds in creating some well made scenes to offset the flaws and uses Vijay to power Bigil to the finish line.
Technicalities: Music and BGM by AR Rahman is adequate. In his 3rd consecutive film with Vijay, one feels the Oscar winning composer did not give his best for the movie as the songs are underwhelming in the end. Thankfully, Singapenney is moving and powerful given the junction it comes at in the movie. Cinematography by GK Vishnu is world class. The visuals are simply outstanding and the film is mounted on a magnificent scale. Editing by Ruben is disappointing. At 3 hours long, Bigil feels like a drag in the end and there are so many extra scenes that just drag the movie in the end. Costumes are good. Fights by Anal Arasu are excellent. However the emotions are missing besides the interval fight to make you feel anything. Dialogues by Atlee are good. Production Values by AGS Entertainments are gigantic. At a reported 180 crores, Bigil is easily the most grand film of Vijay's career and each and every frame is loaded with money and beautiful visuals.
+ 2nd Half
+ Women's Empowerment Theme
- 1st half
- Most unrealistic depiction of soccer
Analysis and Final Take: As stated before, this is the 3rd combo between Atlee and Vijay. If you have seen Theri and Mersal, then you know what to expect when watching this movie. If you haven't, then don't expect too much from Bigil. Simply put, Bigil is another regular commercial entertainer from Vijay with having a massive social message featuring women's empowerment this time. And this works.
The first half is dedicated to showing Micheal's story after an unfortunate incident and the circumstances that cause him to become the football coach for the women's team. The first hour of the film feels completely pointless with countless action scenes and comedy scenes. The film comes into its own when the relationship between Rayappan and Micheal is shown and the unfortunate things that happen. The pre interval and interval sequences are highly emotional. The 2nd half is where the movie takes off and presents many highly emotional and goosebumps worthy moments. The challenge scene, police station scene, acid victim scene, Singapenney sequence, and the climax are all guaranteed goosebump moments.
However like any other movie Bigil has its flaws. And they are very glaring. The first is easily the story. It's insanely predictable and you'll always be a step ahead. The biggest factor is the depiction of soccer in the film. As a hardcore soccer and English Premier League fan, this is easily the most unrealistic depiction of soccer in cinematic history. I frankly don't care if it's cinematic or the purpose of a movie, everything shown is just ridiculous and completely unbelievable. What they show is thet Vijay has the acrobatics of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and ball skills of Neymar combined in the movie. There's even a BGM song that mentions Zinedine ZIdane and Cristiano Ronaldo. There's a scene where he challenges the girls team to a 1 v 11 match and he casually does rabona flicks, around the world juggles, scissor kicks at will. The defenses are clueless throughout the movie and team Tamil Nadu's defenders are pretty much useless because they let up 3 goals in each game and somehow miraculously come back each time. Each and every player has the perfect amount of time to hit bicycle, overhead, and scissor kicks at will. I've never seen someone have so much time to chest the ball, take it down, and then perform acrobatics and score. If you're going to make a sports movie, the least you can do is make it semi realistic or believable and not cheat the audience and take for them for fools in the end.
Movies like Jersey and Chak De India are realistic depictions of their sport. If anything Bigil is a barbarous depiction of soccer. And it doesn't help that these are all the crucial sequences of the movie.
Unless you are a die hard or ardent fan of Vijay and you like soccer, chances are you will hate this movie to the core.
Another problem is the length. As mentioned before, Bigil suffers from many unnecessary scenes and makes for an exhausting watch in the end at 3 hours. And this is being very polite.
In the end, if you can overlook the ridiculousness of the soccer and everything else, Bigil has its emotional and mass moments that work and is carried by Vijay.
Overall, Bigil is an entertainer with ludicrous soccer sequences powered with a powerful and emotional message about female empowerment. Vijay's performance and superstardom, some impactful scenes in the 2nd half, and the overall theme offset the torturous football scenes, predictable story, and pointless first hour of the movie. Watch it only if you're a die hard Vijay fan or like movies with a social message.