Mark Antony Movie Review: SJ Suryah’s Performance Shines in Average Science Fiction Flick

Guns, bullets, gore, and excessive violence have become a common theme in Tamil cinema. Lokesh Kanagaraj started this trend with “Vikram,” and now it’s everywhere. Adhik Ravichandran’s “Mark Antony” is also following suit.

Mark Antony Movie Review: SJ Suryah's Performance Shines in Average Science Fiction Flick

Looking back, when we think about Tamil cinema in the 2020s, we’ll remember it as a time when stunt performers and makeup artists played a significant role. Nowadays, it seems like more fake blood is used in movies than actual ink for writing.

However, it’s becoming a bit monotonous to see the same big machine gun in every film. We get it; the hero walking in slow motion with the machine gun, bullets flying, and shells everywhere used to be cool. But now, it’s starting to feel overdone. Not to mention, the machine guns are getting larger with each movie, and their symbolic references are not very subtle anymore.

Adhik Ravichandran’s Unconventional Approach

Certainly, Adhik, known for his earlier work in the adult comedy “Trisha Illana Nayanthara,” isn’t known for subtlety. He seems to be someone who aims to create something unconventional and wild. However, the challenge lies in turning these unusual ideas into successful films. Coming up with a concept is one thing, but bringing it to life is quite another.

“Mark Antony”: An Ambitious Attempt

Adhik puts in a lot of effort to establish a distinctive retro-sci-fi-gangster-masala blend in his latest work. However, what we ultimately witness is an unsuccessful endeavor with occasional flashes of promise.

The issues with the film become evident right from the beginning when Adhik introduces the rules of his cinematic universe. These rules are cleverly disguised as instructions for a time-traveling telephone, invented by Chiranjeevi (played by Selvaraghavan), a scientist in 1975 Tamil Nadu. According to the manual, this phone allows you to communicate with people in the past but not the future. There’s also a rule that you can only call a specific date once. Rather than organically integrating these rules into the story, Adhik presents them in a convenient manner.

The Core of “Mark Antony”

If Adhik wanted to dive into the main story quickly and minimize setup, he should have provided a compelling reason for viewers to overlook the lazy writing. Unfortunately, there’s no such justification here. At its core, “Mark Antony” revolves around two gangsters, Antony (played by Vishal) and Jackie Pandian (played by SJ Suryah), along with their arch-enemy Ekambaram (played by Sunil).

A Tale of Redemption and Revenge

In a tragic turn of events in 1975, Antony loses his life. In the present, Antony’s son Mark (again played by Vishal) grows up under Jackie’s protection. Mark despises his father for allegedly killing his mother (Abhinaya) and opts for a non-violent life as a humble mechanic. However, when he gains possession of the time-traveling telephone, Mark’s perception of his father drastically changes. He must now utilize the phone to rewrite his past in order to save both his mother and father.

There are indeed quite a few contrivances in “Mark Antony,” but that’s not the film’s main issue. To be frank, the movie doesn’t attempt to be a sophisticated time-travel narrative. Instead, it employs sci-fi elements in a typical Tamil masala film fashion. However, the problem lies in its failure to deliver mindless entertainment, which appears to be its primary goal.

The audience remains indifferent to the flying cars, the burning double-decker bus, or the CGI-rendered Silk Smitha character, despite these flashy elements. Even the violence in the film falls short of providing the expected release or emotional impact. Everything seems artificial, including the portrayal of ‘mother sentiment.’

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The Brilliance of SJ Suryah

After considering everything, “Mark Antony” truly comes alive when SJ Suryah graces the screen. His portrayal of both Jackie Pandian and his son Madhan Pandian is nothing short of incredible. The “inter-dimensional” telephone conversations between the father and son are arguably the film’s highlight. Once Suryah takes on a role, it becomes quite challenging to determine if the character was written for him or if he simply made it his own. His performance is larger than life, yet it carries a sense of depth and authenticity. He embodies desperation and determination simultaneously. If you were to remove him from the film, “Mark Antony” would lose much of the magic it manages to muster.

The film had the potential to match the brilliance of SJ Suryah’s performance if Adhik had given more priority to the writing rather than just creating moments. The excellence seen in the fight sequences and editing by Vijay Velukutty doesn’t extend to the screenplay, which feels like an afterthought. In an attempt to craft theatrical moments, the director appears to have constructed the story around them, overlooking the fact that scenes should serve the narrative, not the other way around.

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