There are moments in Mickey Virus where the film appears to be an engaging thriller, but it falls apart under the barest scrutiny. As the runtime stretches beyond two hours, the missteps pile up in the run-up to a climax that makes no sense.
Debutant writer-director Saurabh Varma set himself up for failure by making Mickey Virus about hackers. I’m no programmer, but all of the tech stuff in the movie is laughable:
- The lead character, Mickey (Manish Paul), plays a video game that looks like something that came out on the Dreamcast.
- The super-sophisticated security system on a hacker gang’s website is a Flash animation of a car chase.
- A screen full of random numbers and letters purports to be code.
- Mickey tries to figure out someone’s password, and the first thing he tries is the young woman’s own first name.
I know septuagenarians who could write more believable tech stuff than this. It could be forgiven if the plot were air-tight, but that’s just as bad.
Mickey comes to the attention of some police officers investigating the murders of a pair of foreign hackers on Indian soil. The cops suspect a gang of hackers is behind it, but they need their own hacker to poke around on the internet and find the evidence for them.
Even though Mickey meets the police officers within the first fifteen minutes of the film, he doesn’t get involved with their case until after an hour has transpired. He spends the rest of the time avoiding his mother’s phone calls and romancing a woman named Kamayani (Elli Avram, who got the job more for her willingness to disrobe and make out with Manish Paul than for her acting chops).
The action doesn’t get rolling until Mickey is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and has to clear his name. Even then, the evidence is so easily explainable that one wonders why Mickey doesn’t just tell the cops, “I’m being set up. Help me find out who’s doing it.”
The ultimate explanation comes out of left field, with no set up and no possible way it could’ve transpired. That the revelation happens during the course of a tedious speech just compounds the problem.
This is a shame, because Mickey’s a good character. He’s talented, but he’s awkward with women and he’s not a know-it-all. He’s almost a regular guy (a rare specimen among Bollywood heroes). Paul is decent in the role, too.
Still, this is a movie worth skipping. When crafting a thriller — especially one centered around computers — screenwriters need to write for the most well-informed members of the audience and hope that the less-informed will keep up. Better that than writing for the least-informed and hoping that best-informed won’t notice.