Director Shankar should be applauded for the idea behind “2.0”. The idea of the most ubiquitous thing in our lives - the cellphone - turning on humanity and causing destruction makes for great entertainment and is instantly relatable to an audience that presumably cannot resist glancing at their mobile devices during the film’s screening.
We’ve all read numerous articles on how mobile phones are taking over our lives, but Shankar takes it one step further - mobiles turn rogue, flying out of users’ hands and metamorphosing into a giant bird that swoops down on cities and destroys them. It’s impossible to take your eyes off the scene of an angry, growling giant bird looming over cities.
It is this visual imagery that takes “2.0” from what would otherwise have been a middling film and elevates it to what is often called spectacle cinema. Shankar, who has made a career out of such films, ups his game significantly in this one. He revives the hero of his 2010 film “Enthiran” - the charming robot Chitti - but also giving us a memorable villain in the form of Pakshi Rajan, the vicious half-bird half-man who wants to destroy every single cellphone and the people who use them.
As cities are being destroyed and people killed by an army of mobile phones that engulfs them, the government turns to Dr Vaseekaran (Rajinikanth), the scientist who created Chitti. He is assisted by NILA (short for Nice, Intelligent, Lovely Assistant), another humanoid robot, played by Amy Jackson, whose limited acting skills and frozen expressions seem perfect for this role.
At 150 minutes, the film is somewhat inconsistent. Shankar cannot seem to resist the temptation to cram in too much, including a romance between robots, and the narrative weakens in places. But when the movie returns to its action scenes and the CGI destruction sequences, things pick up. Rajinikanth’s Chitti is a good superhero, but “2.0” has the one crucial element that elevates every good superhero film - a worthy villain.
Akshay Kumar’s Pakshi Rajan is evil, looks ominous and even has a good backstory. He certainly gets the best special effects and overshadows Chitti by miles. Kumar seems to be having fun being the villain, a welcome change from the sanctimonious characters he has played in Bollywood films recently.
“2.0” is proof yet again, after “Baahubali”, that it is the south Indian film industry that has the vision and audacity required to compete with Hollywood. This film certainly has the look and feel of a big-ticket Hollywood production, and that alone is worth the price of the ticket.