This is a review of the Extended Edition of Pathaan playing on Amazon Prime
Pathaan delivers exactly what you’d expect from a blockbuster action entertainer starring Shah Rukh Khan as a super spy. The newest entry into the Yash Raj Films “Spy Universe” of pictures — which also includes Ek Tha Tiger, its sequel, and War — features Khan as the title character. He goes by a nickname given to him by Afghani villagers he saved from a missile decades earlier when he was simply a soldier, before he started working in intelligence.
Pathaan founded a special sub-unit within RAW consisting of fellow soldiers previously deemed too damaged emotionally or physically to continue working in the armed forces. With a renewed sense of purpose, the members of the JOCR (pronounced “joker”) unit embark upon India’s most dangerous covert missions.
JOCR’s main enemy is Jim (John Abraham), the former partner of Hrithik Roshan’s character Kabir in War. After being betrayed by the Indian government, Jim commands a team of mercenaries contracted by a Pakistani general to retaliate against India for revoking Kashmir’s special status. Jim is more than happy for the chance to get his revenge.
In a movie that is blatantly patriotic, Jim’s status as a former Indian soldier and spy makes him a more compelling villain than if he was just a random foreign adversary with a grudge. Jim forces Pathaan to consider whether the country that he loves really loves him back and raises the question as to what a nation owes its soldiers in return for their sacrifice. It’s a thoughtful counterpoint to the many blindly patriotic films released these days.
It helps that John Abraham plays Jim as a fun and charismatic villain.
During Pathaan’s quest to stop Jim’s dastardly plan, he is both helped and hindered by Rubia (Deepika Padukone), a Pakistani agent working undercover as one of Jim’s lackeys. For evidence that Pathaan is not a movie grounded in gritty realism, one need look no further than Rubia’s spy wardrobe, which consists mostly of bustiers and swimwear. Even her flight suit shows cleavage.
Pathaan‘s periodically goofy tone requires a certain amount of buy-in, but this is a movie made for an audience already fond of its leading man. Instead of simply saying, “Ow,” when he’s punched, Pathaan whines “Ow ow ow,” evoking memories of some of the less macho heroes Khan has played in the past. You’re never not aware that you are watching Shah Rukh Khan, but that’s part of the fun.
In terms of action, Pathaan is at its best during scenes of close-quarters fighting, as when Pathaan is introduced or when he’s aided by a special guest while on a prison transport train. The larger scale set pieces — which involve innumerable helicopters — are not as impressive, but that’s less of a commentary on their quality but a factor of CGI-fatigue. Even the most novel computer-generated sequences look like the weightless, manufactured stunts they are at this point (and that goes for most Hollywood action blockbusters as well).
Since suspension of disbelief is such a big part of Pathaan, it’s best just to enjoy the film for what it is. The cast looks hot, the dance sequences are sexy, and good triumphs over evil — not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.
- Pathaan at Wikipedia
- Pathaan at IMDb
- My review of War
- My review of Ek Tha Tiger
- My review of Tiger Zinda Hai
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