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Fighter Review: Wannabe Top Gun

Last updated on: January 25, 2024 16:53 IST
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Fighter's distressing lack of thrills and sizzle reduces the exercise to an excuse for tedious amounts of Pakistan bashing, observes Sukanya Verma.

Gloss is Siddharth Anand's forte. Within the glamorous sheen of superstar might and slick Hollywood inspired razzmatazz, he has found his formula.

It worked wonders for Pathaan, which saw Shah Rukh Khan in action hero mode taking down an equally, if also surprisingly, formidable foe in John Abraham, accompanied by the sultry Deepika Padukone.

Fighter, which has no connection with the aforementioned YRF spy universe, tom-tommed itself as India's first ever aerial movie in line with Sid's scale-is-everything vision. What it really is a wannabe Top Gun reiterating the director's obsession with Tom Cruise franchises.

Only this time, it is fuelled by choppy writing and done-to-death motivations.

Credited for co-writing its story along with Ramon Chibb featuring dialogues by the Dalal brothers, Hussain and Abbas, Fighter dingle-dangles between a rash pilot's poor decision-making and the rescue of a fellow colleague held in captivity by the hostile neighbour's terror unleashing guest.

Between a kohl-eyed pilot dubbed Red Nose and a menacing mastermind looking like a T-800 wearing John Abraham's Dhoom wig (Rishabh Sawhney piques interest as a one-dimensional antagonist) calling the shots, Pakistan's defence is entirely MIA.


On the other hand, India's air force unit is happy to flaunt its elite combat fliers, collectively known as the Air Dragons led by Anil Kapoor's group captain, Rocky. That he sports a Vito Corleone patch on his sleeve is far more exciting than the tame call signs of his subordinates.

Hrithik Roshan is Patty, Deepika Padukone is Minni, Karan Singh Grover is Taj, Akash Oberoi is Bash, I am pretty sure I heard AK address HR as Betty on one occasion. Blame it on the sound that goes from Dolby digital to muffled and drowned by booming background score as and when Siddharth Anand pleases.

More than dogfights though, it's the mid-air mudslinging between cross-border opponents that occupies a good chunk of Fighter’s nearly three hours running time.

If you are shelling out extra bucks for an immersive 3D experience, better give it a second thought.

As for its physics-defying action, a decent VFX tries to compensate for lack of jaw dropping daredevilry no matter how urgently folks in cockpits cry, 'It's an ambush' or 'Incoming missile'.

When all stunts fail, Fighter falls back to good old Bollywood style on-ground dishoom dishoom and dialoguebaazi to scoop out some drama.

Once again, the source of its desh bhakti is to peddle the good Muslim of India versus bad Muslim of Pakistan narrative.

Hrithik played a soldier before in Farhan Akhtar's Lakshya.

It's an entirely different aesthetic and journey from his Indian Air Force pilot Shamsher Pathania's (a nod to the director's biggest success yet?) bombastic vigour.

But every now and then, those glistening green eyes brighten the frames and the inward unrest he conveys comes through.

Too bad Siddharth can never see its value beyond 'good looks, good looks, good looks'.

There's no denying the man's dripping in the latter.

Sun kissed visuals of Hrithik's towering frame and sleek coiffe are a regular object of Cinematographer Satchith Paulose's constant affection.

Fighter's preoccupation with his slow-motion charisma and uniform tearing biceps never lets him be his character. He always has to be in 'show mode'.

One minute he's arrogant and breaking rules, another he's broody and ready to call it quits.

Immediately after, he's either shaking a leg at a disco or flirting with airport staff.

All eyes are constantly on him, especially Deepika Padukone's.

Odd that she starts out as a woman wanting to prove herself in a man's world only to end up pining for a guy throughout the movie.

It's no fun to watch this lovely, luminous duo in a movie that uses their talent as trimmings.

Anil Kapoor has it better. He gets to grumble all the time and vent out his irritation in a rather authentic tone.

Despite its potential for showcasing the significance and scale of fraternity and fighter planes, Fighter's distressing lack of thrills and sizzle reduces the exercise to an excuse for tedious amounts of Pakistan bashing.

There's no genuine attempt to dwell into the context or consequences in its destructive geopolitics and worldview seeing as it casually throws in scenarios inspired by Pulwama attack and Balakot strikes into the mix.

Stupidity, not sky, is the limit for this superficial saga of valour whose understanding of heroics is as dense as the kajal in the eye of the enemy across the border.

Fighter Review Rediff Rating:

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