Leo 2023 Movie Review
Vijay has been one of the few big stars who has consistently released movies even during COVID years. There is a certain pressure directing Vijay I and we could clearly see that in Lokesh earlier venture, Master with him. Master’s probably is the weakest work of Lokesh Kanagaraj. I think most of us already knew that Leo would be a part of LCU (Lokesh Cinematic Universe for someone who didn’t know) considering how Lokesh solidified the universe around Vikram. The trailer didn’t reveal too much apart from a stellar star cast. Despite having many famous actors in the movie Leo is out and out Vijay film and yet it is not his usual Vijay film.
Seeing the trailer and some other clips there has been parallels drawn to the movie “History of Violence”. Kudos to Lokesh Kanagaraj for a deceiving trailer edit. I dont think Lokesh is trying to hide that he was inspired from the movie History of Violence, but I think he is just trying to pay an homage to it. That is the characteristic of Lokesh Kanagaraj just like how he has paid homage to multiple other movies in his previous films. The movie is set in Kashmir although shown in movie as Himachal Pradesh for the reasons we do not know revolves around a middle-aged man living a peaceful life with his family. Rest of the movie is about identity of the main character Parthiban played by Vijay and how he is fighting off the demons from the past or even if he actually has any. First half is crisp sets up sets up the character well and the incidents happening around the character makes sense. A lot of characters come and go and it feels kind of hard to track what is happening with respect to different characters. However, that does not deviate the movie from being entertaining. Second half of the movie with it’s flashback story kind of turns out chaotic and not so reasonable at times. Leo has one of the best action sequences that I have seen in Indian movies in the recent times. The 2 fights in the first half are really well choreographed especially the action scene at the market. Anirudh slowly elevating background score does help the cause as well. Some people were not impressed with the car chase sequence in the second half, but I really liked it. Lokesh brings a unique viewer experience to that chase sequence it may not seem realistic, but still a treat to watch. The movie pretty much excels in all other technical departments. I think Lokesh finds it hard to balance the realistic and over the top nature of Vijay’s character. He wants to show us Vijay as a vulnerable family man but also as a ruthless killer which may not resonate well all the times. The flashback episode isn’t very convincing enough and does not have the emotional depth it is supposed to have. The choreography for the song “Naa Ready” is a marvel to watch and needs to be appreciated more. There is a LCU plug with the character from “Kaithi” but it is just for the hoots.
Playing roles suitable to their ages seems to be the new trend for the South Indian actors and which it does look quite good in the salt and pepper avatar. Vijay definitely has worked really hard in the role and he runs the show despite the movie having such a heavy star cast. But there are scenes where I miss the quieter and “mass” avatar of Vijay which we scene in many movies. Trisha as his wife has played a very convincing role and she has underplayed it well. While his kids’ roles add to the family element, I feel that they did not necessarily need their own arcs at times. Gautam Menon’s role is apt but I would have liked some more exciting elements added to his role. Both Sanjay Dutt’s and Arjun Sarja roles have been underdeveloped and their purpose seems tiring at times. Sanjay Dutt has repeated interactions with Vijay’s character at times without really adding much to the film. I believe that could have been better served by adding more to their roles in the flashback.
Lokesh Kanagaraj is definitely one of the genius filmmakers in the Indian cinema industry at the moment. Leo may not be his best work from a story and screenplay POV, but it is yet another great example of managing a big star’s film with very few conventional elements to it.