Kill (2024)

Lakshya is a deadly force in Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s thriller “Kill.”

All aboard for the ultra-violent thriller ‘Kill’

Would it sound psychopathic if I were to tell you that the most enjoyable movie of the summer is a non-stop bloodbath with a death toll approaching 50? Well, call me crazy if you must, but I’m not letting go of my assessment of the succinct and aptly titled “Kill.”

Sprung from the deliciously devious mind of writer-director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, “Kill” twists Shakespeare’s “the play’s the thing” into “the slay’s the thing.” Accordingly, there’s enough death via sharp implements to fill Hamlet with envy. But how do I do “Kill” justice? Let me take a stab at it.

It all begins innocently enough, with rugged Indian army commando, Amrit (the impossibly hunky Lakshya), rushing to crash the engagement party of his beloved Tulika (Tanya Maniktala). He arrives too late. But that does little to dissuade him. He’s got a Plan B, which is for him and his best friend, fellow commando Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan), to sneak onto the train transporting Tulika and her wealthy family to the arranged wedding in Delhi.

Within minutes he’s on bended knee in the lavatory, unaware that some three dozen thieves are boarding farther up the train. At the very moment the lovely Tulika is accepting his proposal, the so-called dacoits – brandishing hammers, crowbars and very long knives – order the passengers to fork over their valuables. Cue the two-man military unit of Amrit and Viresh to foil the criminals by utilizing their special forces training.

Not anticipating resistance, the dacoits and their leader, Fani (Raghav Juyal), are caught completely off guard. But they are not about to retreat. So, let the multi-car killing spree begin. And we’re not even 12 minutes into the movie!

It’s two against 41. In the real world, it would be no contest. The bad guys, including the tracksuit-clad giant, Siddhi (Parth Tiwari), would simply overwhelm Amrit and Viresh by sheer numbers. But then we wouldn’t have a movie. And, boy, do we have a movie, one that incites the primal desire to witness good trump evil.

You’d think all the fighting would soon grow tedious, but Bhat is not about to let your attention wane. Not even for a second. To ensure full immersion, he employs a sort of martial arts ballet in which every move is perfectly choreographed for the ultimate payoff, whether it involves thrusting a knife through an eye or burying a cleaver in a victim’s skull. Sometimes both at once.

Bhat also makes clever use of the train itself, as the combatants rumble and tumble down aisles, with heads ricocheting off walls and seats. Occasionally, a porcelain toilet or fire extinguisher comes in handy for literally beating the brains out of the dacoits. And lord knows what horrors lurk behind the curtains in the sleeping car.

That’s just the warm-up. Wait until Rani’s dad, Beni (Ashish Vidyarthi), and a half-dozen more reinforcements hop the train, dramatically altering the dynamic by not just pitting father and son against our heroes, but also father against son.

Seeing huge dollar signs, Rani argues in favor of kidnapping Tulika’s father (Harsh Chhaya) and holding him for ransom, while the boy’s more pragmatic dad (sporting a stunningly ugly argyle sweater) would be content merely seeing Amrit and Viresh dead. Will either get their wish? More importantly, will we eventually check out, given the overwhelming amount of gratuitous violence spread continuously over 90-plus minutes? Not on your life.

Bhat’s skill is in setting the perfect tone to facilitate guilt-free amusement at what should normally appall us. I suspect that’s because the grand exhibition of overkill is sort of the point, demonstrating the senselessness of returning violence for violence. Does the loss of a few watches, rings and necklaces justify ending the lives of four dozen human beings? It doesn’t, of course, and in the end, I’m sure Amrit would agree. For what he has lost is more precious than any piece of jewelry.

Wow! A movie that delivers both a good time and a message. Imagine that. You might even say “Kill” is “John Wick” with a brain, albeit one in which large amounts of that gray matter are left splattered on the walls and floor of an express train to hell. All I can say is, book me a seat.

Movie review


Rated: R for extreme violence

Cast: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Abhishek Chauhan, Parth Tiwari, Raghav Juyal, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Writer: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Runtime: 115 minutes

Where: In theaters July 4 (limited)

Grade: A-

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