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Mafia Movie Review: Cat and Mouse game with style but less substance

Modified On: 21 February 2020 | Reviewed By:

The film has excessive use of English which can irk some of the audience.


Director: Karthick Naren | Music Director: Jakes Bejoy

Mafia  Movie Poster

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Cast: Arun Vijay, Prasanna

Directed By: Karthick Naren

Mafia begins with an unexpected shoot out that takes place at a posh hotel on a Saturday night. We are then taken back to Wednesday – a small narcotics operation happens headed by Aryan (Arun Vijay), after which a couple of drug users are nabbed. The sudden death of Aryan’s superior officer and activist Mugilan (Thalaivasal Vijay), who were behind a leading drug cartel, leads to further inquiry. Once Aryan finds that it is businessman Diwakar (Prasanna) who rules the drug mafia, an interesting cat-and-mouse game begins. The tiff between the protagonist and the antagonist is aided by decent fistfights, gunfights, and brain games. When Aryan takes on the mighty Diwakar, we feel that hunting down the latter is close to impossible. But when Aryan almost does it, he understands that Diwakar is just one among the many venomous snakes in the den.

Mafia is packaged as an ultra-stylish film with a wafer-thin storyline and looks more like a new generation crime series on a streaming platform. It is slow-paced even though the run time is only 112 minutes, reaches a crescendo in its knock out big reveal climax, which is the highlight. The stunning twist at the end looks more like a base for the one-line story for Chapter II. The film does not live up to the hype and expectations you would anticipate out of a Karthick Naren film. 

As the title says, this is the first chapter of Mafia, and the way the film ends makes us eagerly wait for the next chapter, thanks to the fabulous twist in the climax, which is one reason why the latter half comes across as quite engaging. The former half doesn’t offer many surprises and takes some time to elaborate on the characters and set up. The presentation and narration, at times, remind you of web series format as you feel certain cinematic elements seem to be missing. The number of slow-motion shots and spoon-feeding in some scenes could have been avoided. Mafia would appeal to fans of action movies, especially those which have stylish narcotics backdrop. All said and done, here’s waiting for Mafia: Chapter 2.

The first half is full of character introduction and plods along with a weakly written narrative. It also lacks the energy that one might expect from such a plot. However, Karthick makes it up in the pacey second half, with the surprise and terrific climax twist. In a way, the sudden turn at the end raises the audience’s expectations for Chapter II. Arun Vijay is simply terrific and looks smashing as Aryan, while Prasanna as the suave and soft-spoken antagonist leaves an impact. And Priya Bhavani Shankar may not have much screen space but one single scene in the climax when she guns down a bad guy shows the performer in her. Another major plus of the film is the music and sound design. Jakes Bejoy’s background score creates the right mood and elevates the film. The action scenes are choreographed in a different pattern. However, there are too many slow-motion scenes, especially in the first half to show the swag for character introduction. 

On the whole Mafia: Chapter I is stylishly cut but has very little substance. But the climax has kindled the expectation meter for Chapter II. In fact, just for the seven-minute climax surprise twist we are going with a higher rating than it would have deserved.

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