2018 Everyone Is A Hero Movie Review (2023)

Jude Anthany Joseph

Jude Anthany Joseph's '2018: Everyone is a Hero' is painted in very broad strokes but ends up a solid account of a tragic time

2018 Everyone Is A Hero Movie Review

2018 Everyone Is A Hero Movie Cast & Crew

Production : PK Prime Production,Kavya Film Company
Music Director : Nobin Paul

There are two ways to make a movie about a large-scale disaster. One is to reduce the scale, like Lakshmy Ramakrishnan did in the exquisitely moving and understated House Owner. The story revolves around the 2015 Chennai floods, but it remains an intimate narrative about just one couple, played by character actors. By focusing on a tiny part, you get a sense of the whole. The other approach is seen in Aashiq Abu's superbly written, superbly crafted medical thriller Virus, where a galaxy of stars come together to battle the Nipah virus. Jude Anthany Joseph's 2018: Everyone is a Hero follows the Virus model, and here, a galaxy of stars come together to tackle the devastating Kerala floods. But unlike the former film, the director and his co-writer Akhil P Dharmajan go for the broad strokes, with dashes of hysterical melodrama. 2018 does not rise to the levels of Virus, but on its own, it is a solid account of a tragic time.

One of the aspects that bothered me about the writing is the constant attempt to over-manipulate the audience. The flood is in itself a hugely affecting source of drama, something that binds us instantly to the characters. And with this huge cast, you instantly wonder – like in the Hollywood disaster movies – who will live and who will die, which becomes an additional source of drama. But clearly, it is not enough. It is not enough that a woman is in trouble – it has to be a heavily pregnant woman. It is not enough that a little boy is in trouble – it has to be a boy with Down's Syndrome. It is not enough that an older man is in trouble – he also has to be blind. This is the kind of movie where you know that the minute a fisherman's son looks at his father's profession with contempt, he is going to turn into a full-on fisherman by the end. And the minute a truck driver is shown as not spending time with his family, we are going to end up with the loving call he makes to his mother and little daughter.

But all of this is not a huge deal-breaker because, as a title card tells us at the beginning: "Every calamity is just news until it hits us." And in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it hit us hard. At one point I wondered why we are so drawn to a story of suffering that we just experienced in real life. Why do we want to relive those horrible memories? Why do we want to see the 9/11 terror attack recreated? I don't know – but two visuals in 2018 nudged me towards a possible answer. One was the image of a big-ass, wall-mounted flat-screen TV whose base hovers over a rapidly increasing water level. I think these films remind us of impermanence, that however much we have, it can all go away in an instant. The second image is that of a birthday celebration, even as the mayhem begins. There's also the assurance that life does go on.

2018 begins with little scene- and character-setting events, where we meet everyone. I liked the touches like the Indrans character tuning his radio to an old Yesudas song. It may be a cliche, but  it says something about the man and instantly makes him a familiar figure we want to root for. And I liked the way the screenplay keeps mixing moods. For instance, we get a tense stretch with fishermen at sea facing a huge ship, and also a nascent love story with comic moments, and also a clueless Polish couple who have chosen the worst possible time for a visit to God's Own Country, and also a dramatic stretch involving sibling rivalry. I could have lived without the artificially amped-up drama like the bits about a bomb consignment or a cobra or a train accident – but hey, I did say we are dealing with broad strokes here.

The film's title says "Everyone is a hero", though apparently, some heroes are bigger than others. Tovino Thomas gets the most fully fleshed-out character, and even a love interest – and later, he gets to do the biggest saving acts. He is both a star and a character actor here. In contrast, Kunchacko Boban gets the least to do. As the Home Secretary, he is stuck inside a room with his colleagues. Vineeth Sreenivasan is also used mainly for his empathetic presence – both these actors have faces we instantly warm up to (which is why, random thought alert, it would be great to see them play a serial killer or some such embodiment of evil). Asif Ali, Lal, Narain, Kalaiyarasan – all get a moment or two to shine, but it's a bit of a pity that none of the women characters, with the exception of the reporter played by Aparna Balamurali, get much to do. The awesome Pauly Valsan is introduced as a police officer and reduced to a matchmaker. Just for variety in the drama, it would have been nice to see a few female heroes, too.

But the end result is a film with many affecting sights. 2018 could have been so much better, but it's impossible not to be moved by the sight of an aged woman being lowered into a makeshift boat – basically, a tub-like thing. There are many tragic reminders like this. There is a big death at the end, which should have had a bigger impact. In Virus, we felt for everyone, both the affected and the people fighting to save them – and given the nature of the two films, I think comparing them is a valid exercise. But 2018 is more logistically complicated. The visual effects, the sound effects are well done and we almost feel drenched by the time we leave the theatre. I guess I had mixed feelings about the movie itself, but as a document of our times, it's a solid monument to a tragedy that took place in one particular area, but really cuts across borders and makes us think about the bigger picture of life.

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Baradwaj Rangan

National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.