‘Christopher’ movie review: Mammootty’s film is a long, poorly-scripted celebration of encounter killings
When a film proudly flashes ‘biography of a vigilante cop’ as its tagline, one certainly expects the narrative to have a few encounter killings. However, nothing prepares one for the sheer number of encounter killings in B. Unnikrishnan’s Christopher, which are often preceded by gruesome scenes of rape or attacks on women, filmed in a graphically disturbing manner. The events before the encounter killings are written by scriptwriter Udaykrishna in such a way that even those who demand a fair trial would not blame the cop for shooting these men, for they all seem to be asking for such a death with their behaviour in custody as well. All this aids in the compiling of this “biography”, which is uncritical to the core.
Trigger-happy cop Christopher Antony (Mammootty) is facing a departmental enquiry after he gunned down a group of men allegedly involved in a gang rape. Investigating officer Sulekha (Amala Paul) goes beyond the case at hand, almost piecing together his life history, one that is marked by several encounter killings. Well, the history of the encounters forms the better part of the film; it soon brings in an arch-villain (Vinay Rai) to mouth a few menacing lines, all of which would sound funny going by how it all fizzles out in the end.
Cast: Mammootty, Amala Paul, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sneha, Siddique, Vinay Rai
Runtime: 150 minutes
Storyline: Trigger-happy cop Christopher Antony is facing a departmental enquiry over a case of extra-judicial killing. The film looks at a series of encounters he had during his career
After the enormous debacle that was Aaraattu, the B Unnikrishnan-Udaykrishna team attempts some course correction here. Most notably, we are spared of the vulgar double entendres that are a staple in Udaykrishna’s scripts. The script sticks to the encounter cop’s story mostly, but without saying anything new and never attempting to spring a surprise, not even in the climax. It is the familiar cycle of ‘attacks on women-media outrage-encounter killings-social media celebration’ that plays out, with each cycle creating a new justification for encounter killings.
Other than the ones getting shot at, and a few token activists on television screens, no one in the Christopher universe seems to think that the encounter killings are wrong. So much so that the investigating officer and even the Chief Minister are at times left tongue-tied in admiration, at the reasons trotted out by Christopher to justify his actions. The cop’s origin story itself is written around one such killing by a police officer, whom the young Christopher looks on in admiration.
What the film lacks in substance, it seeks to make up for in the star’s swagger and a loud background score that numbs one with its repetitiveness. The limitless imagination of the scriptwriter is evident in the hero’s punchline to the villain, named Thrimurthi, “If you are Thrimurthi, I am Samhara Murthi (destructive lord).” This of course trumps the other one, “Justice delayed is justice denied,” the common refrain to justify the killings.
For Mammootty, who has been having a good run in recent months, it is back to the same old. Amala Paul and Sneha get lengthier roles, while Aishwarya Lekshmi’s is rather insignificant. Shine Tom Chacko repeats his infamous interview persona on screen for the second film running.
Christopher is one long, unfortunate celebration of encounter killings. The poor scripting is a far lesser crime.
Christopher is currently running in theatres