Sardar movie review: Despite a number of obvious shortcomings, the spy thriller starring Karthi is interesting and enjoyable thanks in large part to some outstanding action and the lead actor.
Sardar : You should take PS Mithran seriously since he strives to consistently push the boundaries of filmmaking. Irumbu Thirai, a fantastic cybercrime thriller that was his breakout debut, was followed by Hero, a critically lauded superhero thriller. With Sardar, a moderately absorbing spy thriller that tackles a very urgent problem, Mithran now makes a notable comeback. Sardar has some extremely interesting stretches while having a second half that is mainly predictable, and it sincerely tries to educate Tamil audiences to the world of spies. The conclusion isn’t revolutionary, but it leaves you with the impression that this story had a lot of potential.
Karthi portrays inspector Vijay Prakash, a publicity-hungry character who will stop at nothing to generate headlines. His serious efforts have caused Tamil Nadu Police to become a frequently discussed subject on social media. Vijay’s dedication to his career, however, is compromised by the fact that his father was a former spy who has been labelled a traitor by the government. Because Vijay is only thought of as the son of a spy who betrayed his own country, he has become increasingly resentful of his father.
When a crucial document disappears from the R&AW wing’s secret vault, Vijay makes it his life’s work to find the culprit. Vijay discovers that his father, who was once labelled a traitor, has been rotting in a prison in Bangladesh for 32 years during this process. The father, who goes by the codename Sardar, is likewise portrayed by Karthi. The story introduces his father as a stage performer turned spy in the flashback as Vijay strives to learn more about his father. The rest of the narrative centres on Vijay’s quest to learn whether his father had rebelled against his own country and went rogue.
Tamil cinema has had very few spy films over the years and Mithran’s Sardar, despite its share of glaring flaws, is definitely a solid addition to the list. Sardar stays as much as rooted as possible in its attempt to explore the spy genre, and that’s something that really works in the film’s favour. It’s the rootedness of the film that makes it largely entertaining.
The only major complaint with Sardar is when it also wants to become an awareness film when it talks about water mafia and how multinational corporations are cashing in on the high demand for clean drinking water. This is where the film really struggles to stay relevant and gradually turns into a boring lecture. At some point, the film isn’t sure whether it wants to be a spy film (which it could’ve been more effectively if only it didn’t try to preach a message) or an awareness film on water mafia. Bhavesh Joshi, for instance, also addressed this issue of water mafia but it left a stronger impact as a superhero film that wants to fix a problem. Unfortunately, Sardar wants to be both a spy film as well as a message-heavy awareness film and the outcome isn’t wholesomely satisfying.
Sardar is still a watchable spy thriller that’s powered by some great action set pieces. Karthi as Sardar, a spy in his 60’s, makes action look so effortless. His introduction scene amidst a prison riot has to be one of the best sequences of the movie. The action is very smartly choreographed, especially when it involves Sardar, who can’t fight like a typical hero who is in his 20s or 30s. The young Karthi is more of a crowd-pleasing character which is fun to watch initially but gets lost with no purpose in the second half of the movie. The young Rithvik is easily one of the better written child characters in recent years. He has such incredibly good screen presence.