Thunivu is a Tamil-language gigantic nesting doll heist movie from H. Vinoth. When a group of robbers attempts to rob the Your Bank main branch, they’re halted by another robber, the Dark Devil (Ajith Kumar), who turns the whole robbery against them. But the rabbit hole goes way, way deeper than that, with the police, the military, the media, and the bank itself all weaving their way through this over-complicated plot.
The first 15 minutes of Thunivu are perfect. The opening action sequence as the Dark Devil turns one bank robbery into a very different bank robbery is excellently choreographed and well shot, offering an epic action sequence to jumpstart the movie. The physical movement, gun work, and use of the bank’s set all begin the movie with a bang. But as the plot thickens, it quickly becomes way too over-complicated and at times, rather hard to follow. It all comes together by the end, but the constant flashbacks and quick scene switches over to ceaseless new characters become quite muddled quite fast.
At its core, Thunivu is a political movie. It’s about corruption in society’s most trusted institutions, including law enforcement, the media, and especially the banks. It’s obvious from the moment you press play. But instead of just letting the movie play out and the obvious corruption fester, instead, you get endless exposition that explains and re-explains all of the minute details of what is going on in each corrupted corner of the saga. It’s not especially interesting and detracts from all of the generally exciting action. The movie is long, at about 2 hours and 20 minutes, and could stand to have had at least 40 minutes of its superfluous runtime truncated.
When the movie isn’t over-explaining itself though, there are a good number of strong action sequences. Despite many of them taking place in the bank, none of them feel repetitive, given they either involve new people with different styles of combat or a new circumstance that warrants a change in the choreography. The final action scene is quite poor though. It’s not only disinteresting but also has some of the movie’s worst effects with rather poor green screening and poor blood effects. For most of the movie, the effects look seamless. Mostly because it involves a lot of physical action and practical effects. Every time fire is involved though, it’s done digitally and stands out horribly against the rest of the effects.
As an action lead, Kumar is pretty swell. He has the charisma, he has the one-liners, and he has some funny non-sequiturs dancing between scenes. His first dance number “Gangstaa” is a lot of just turning to look at the camera while wearing cool clothing. It’s a decent song but not an interesting dance sequence. The second dance number “Chilla Chilla” also has its fair share of side-eyeing the camera, but feels like the dancing and the tenor of the song better match the Dark Devil’s true personality compared to “Gangstaa,” which emulates what other people regard him as. It also leads into one of the movie’s more emotional beats.
On the whole, what Thunivu is trying to say is certainly poignant. It’s an over-explained nesting doll of a heist movie with strong action scenes but too much meandering. A trimmed-down version of this movie that focused more on its action sequences and its anti-hero main character and reduced substantially the number of times it veered off into introducing new characters and plot elements would have been both more effective at getting its message across and more fulfilling of a movie.
Thunivu is streaming now on Netflix.
Thunivu is an over-explained nesting doll of a heist movie with strong action scenes but too much meandering.