'Iraivan' review: Jayam Ravi and Nayanthara deliver a lacklustre thriller

In pyshco-thriller films, a crucial element is crafting a villain who outshines the hero by tenfold. Photo: IMDb

The opening sequence of 'Iraivan' paints a stark picture of Arjun, portrayed by Jayam Ravi, as a relentless police officer who stops at nothing to deliver justice. Directed by I Ahmed, this film marks Jayam Ravi's return to the screen after his eponymous role in Mani Ratnam's epic 'Ponniyin Selvan', reuniting him with Nayanthara, his partner from the hit 'Thani Oruvan'. Against the backdrop of Tamil cinema's recent fascination with serial killer narratives, Iraivan appears to draw inspiration from notable works like 'Por Thozhil' and 'Psycho'.

In thriller films, a crucial element is crafting a villain who outshines the hero tenfold. The hero's duty revolves around rescuing the victims and thwarting impending doom, while the villain must exude an aura of sheer terror, embodying complete madness. This is the time-tested formula often observed in the genre, and Iraivan faithfully adheres to this blueprint. Jayam Ravi, with his imposing stature and robust physique, is convincing as the valiant saviour, while Rahul Bose delivers a brilliant performance as the deranged psycho killer Bramma.

The basic plotline of the movie revolves around how the psychotic criminal kills his victims and the efforts of officers Arjun (Jayam Ravi) and Andrew (Narain) to apprehend this ruthless murderer.

The film, however, stumbles in its execution. In a genre already saturated with numerous thrilling tales, it is imperative for a new entrant to inject freshness into the storyline. Unfortunately, the first half of the movie fails to do so. As the plot unfolds, it becomes disconcertingly easy for viewers to predict who the next victim will be, partly due to how certain characters are positioned within the story, telegraphing their impending fate.

The second half of the film undoubtedly exhibits an improvement in pacing and narrative intensity. The first half concludes with a chilling clue or revelation from Rahul Bose's character to Jayam Ravi, suggesting that the spree of killings is far from over. This pivotal moment becomes the foundation upon which the movie evolves. However, while Rahul Bose's portrayal of the psycho killer thrills the audience, the introduction of yet another character in the second half may feel somewhat stretched and slightly far-fetched.

The movie could have undoubtedly been elevated to a higher standard had it refrained from the inclusion of superfluous emotional sequences. While Jayam Ravi's action sequences were commendable, his portrayal of emotional scenes lacked the authenticity needed, at times bordering on the comedic. Furthermore, some of the deaths in the film appear excessively exaggerated. For instance, when the killer subjects the victims' families to the torment of viewing their torture videos, it's natural for family members to be emotionally devastated. However, in 'Iraivan', the family members don't just react emotionally to the killer's videos; they go into full 'Bird Box' mode and decide to dramatically end their own lives—an exaggeration that feels excessive within the context of the story.

The ensemble cast, featuring talents like Narain, Nayanthara, and Vijayalakshmi Feroz, delivers commendable performances. However, Nayanthara, despite being the lead heroine, finds herself with a rather underwhelming role in the film. Especially after her powerful performance in 'Jawan,' her character in 'Iraivan' appears less promising.

For avid fans of hardcore thriller movies, this film may not provide the same level of satisfaction. Nevertheless, if you happen to be a devoted Jayam Ravi enthusiast, you'll likely find some enjoyment in this moderately engaging thriller.

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