Christopher Movie Review (2023)


B Unnikrishnan's 'Christopher', starring Mammootty, is a loud, blunt weapon of a movie about a vigilante cop

Christopher Movie Review

Christopher Movie Cast & Crew

Production : RD Illuminations
Director : B.Unnikrishnan
Music Director : Justin Varghese

No means no. That's what Christopher (Mammootty) wants for women. But very often, toxic and powerful men do not take no for an answer – and the women end up punished. It's been a while since I have seen women put through as many gruesome rapes and burnings and other forms of torture. Christopher is the cop who ensures that the men responsible for these crimes end up being punished. He simply shoots them. It's been a while since I have seen a cop so trigger-happy, even in the midst of crowds. There's probably a genuinely serious drama to be made about how – at least from a certain point of view – extrajudicial killings are the only way to punish those who have the power to escape the clutches of the law. But Christopher, directed by B Unnikrishnan, is not that movie.

This is a blunt weapon of a screenplay that exists to present a hero-glorification story. There's nothing wrong about that, of course. In fact, you could even argue that the reason we like watching stories about vigilante justice is that the men on screen are doing what we want to do but are too gutless to do. Even so, you expect a certain finesse in the way all this comes about on screen. Christopher is almost comical in the way it makes its hero a one-man army, who is present anywhere and everywhere to punish the wicked. The writing is comical, too. When we see Christopher asking a young girl to go home and study, we know this is really a red flag for the audience to keep in mind because something is surely going to happen to this young girl. And elsewhere, with someone else, the mere mention of genital mutilation is not enough. A few scenes later, we are shown in graphic slo-mo exactly how this gory act occurred and how the woman twitched in pain.

Almost everyone is indebted to the hero in some way, so there is zero suspense whether his actions will get him caught. Just take a look at the cast: Dileesh Pothan, Sneha, Amala Paul, Sarath Kumar, Siddique, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Shine Tom Chacko… I could go on, but it's tragic how little everyone is given to do. Even the cop played by Amala Paul says a lot but does very little. And they should have a contest to see what use the villain played by Vinay Rai is. The best answer gets two tickets to Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam. No, I understand that great films don't keep coming along all the time and actors have to keep themselves busy. But even after a tragic backstory, Mammootty is asked to do so little that he powers along solely on the basis of his charisma.

The ear-shattering score, the camera gimmicks – all of this is a reminder that the audience is as much a victim as the women in this empty shell of a movie. The worst thing is that the screenplay thinks it is making a statement. At one point, we get statistics like this: at least five women are raped and killed every day by feudal landlords in Bijapur village in Madhya Pradesh. Thank you for that research, but how about addressing something that you can actually do something about: like writing better parts for your women actors! That is a form of empowerment, too. Sneha plays the Home Secretary and she comes across like an idiot! If you want to make a pure action movie for a big star, surely there are better ways to do it than to pretend you are avenging raped women. Excitement is fine, but this is exploitation.

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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.