2024, R, 105 min. Directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat. Starring Lakshya, Raghav Juyal, Tanya Maniktala, Abhishek Chauhan, Ashish Vidyarthi, Adrija Sinha, Harsh Chhaya.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., July 5, 2024

Hindi action movies aren’t known for being lean and mean. Whether you grew up watching Amitabh Bachchan in wide-collared suits engaging in stylized action sequences or you’ve been watching the new-wave action heroes finding international success with their almost comedically macho delivery and slo-mo explosions, it’s not likely you’ll expect brevity. There’s a particular kind of glossiness that is popular at the moment, so when Amrit (Lakshya) opens a train window so that the wind will tousle the hair of his soon-to-be-fiancée Tulika (Maniktala), it feels like Kill director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat is spoofing those conventions.

That’s not quite the case. Instead, it’s Bhat’s way of pointing out how artificial those moments are. Kill is grit and gore, a hard-hitting action film that’s all sinews and sharp edges, with its first bloody knife fight within the first 20 minutes. If you want blood, well, you got it.

Bhat’s script (co-written with Ayesha Syed) is built around a public transit nightmare: A gang armed with knives, hammers, axes, and kukris takes over a cross-country overnight train and heads on a bloody rampage in between stops. What they don’t know is that’ve accidentally kidnapped the owner of one of India’s biggest trucking companies (Chhaya) and his daughter, Tulika. What they soon find out is that Amrit is also on the train, and he happens to be a National Security Guard Commando with the skills to put the whole gang in the grave. What Amrit doesn’t know is that when he and his army buddy (Viresh) start fighting back, one of the first baddies they skewer is the brother of big boss Beni (Vidyarthi), so now this is personal.

All this is established in the first half hour, because what Bhat’s building up to is one of the leanest, meanest, goriest action films in Indian cinematic history. Bad guys have a reason to kill the good guy, good guy has a reason to kill the bad guys, and Lakshya is the kind of action star who can take an ass-kicking just as much as he can deliver one. And when that single-word title finally appears at the 45-minute mark, just after Bhat has delivered one more twist of the knife, then there’s nothing but carnage.

Compare Kill to the far more comedic and ridiculous Bullet Train . That English-language romp dodged on and off the already spacious carriages of the train. In the engineering-green confines of this sleeper train, there’s no room to escape Amrit as he becomes a beast of pure violence.

Kill fits into the bloody revenge tradition within nodding distance of Kill Bill’s the Bride and Oh Dae-su in Old Boy (unsurprisingly an American remake, helmed by John Wick saga director Chad Stahelski, has already been announced). Those icons of retribution would definitely give a courteous head bob to Amrit, especially when he’s staring down a top-tier scumbag adversary like the cold-blooded head of the killer crew, Fani. Played by Juyal, he may be the only more charismatic member of the cast than the understated Lakshya, but he’s such an unmitigated scumbag that you’re just waiting for the inevitable point at which Amrit makes it all the way down the train to deliver the killing blow. On the way, the violence only gets more and more intense, with every movable object and solid surface becoming a way to bludgeon, maim, and ultimately dispatch the gang. Impressively, Bhat keeps a cat-and-mouse element to the story – all the more remarkable considering that the whole story is confined to a passageway a few feet wide along four carriages. He also never loses sight of the romance plot, keeping it central to the narrative while never seeming mawkish. The destination may seem inevitable, but the twists, turns, and merciless bloodshed make Kill a trip well worth taking.


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Kill, Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, Lakshya, Raghav Juyal, Tanya Maniktala, Abhishek Chauhan, Ashish Vidyarthi, Adrija Sinha, Harsh Chhaya

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