Movie Review : Phantom

Phantom:  A Thriller I wish had more Punch

Political Thrillers are Kabir Khan’s forte, what with his previous movies “Kabul Express” & “Ek Tha Tiger” both phantom-poster-saif-ali-khan-katrina-kaifwere of the same genre. But his last enormously successful “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” was more of a family drama with Indo-Pak theme. Well the expectations from “Phantom” are sky high…

Taking his love for political thriller Kabir Khan constructs “Phantom” based on Hussain Zaidi’s book “Mumbai Avengers” which is a fiction post 26/11 massacre in Mumbai. The plot is of how an Ex Army Officer Daniel Khan (Saif Ali Khan) is called for a mission by RAW to eradicate the master minds of 26/11 massacre. How Daniel goes ahead with the mission and whether he is successful in completing the mission is what the movie all about.

Adopting Hussain Zaidi’s novel the screenplay by Kabir Khan & Parvez Shaikh is taut but inconsistent. The sequence when Daniel executes his mission one by one is technically brilliant but looks too easy to be true and lacks the edge of the seat moments which is the prime issue with the script. Another issue of the screenplay is that goes back & forth many times adding on to the inconsistency more. The prime sequences especially the Pakistan sequence looks all over place again taking away from the thriller element. The background story of Daniel does not have the impact hence the fallen hero element falls flat. Daniel’s accomplice Nawaz Mistry’s (Katrina Kaif) character is not fully defined till the end, whether she is a RAW agent or whether she is an outsourced resource working for RAW, it is not clear. The forced brewing romance between Daniel & Nawaz is a waste and slows down the pace. Even the climax looks a bit weak for a thriller. And to top it all the significance of the title “Phantom” never comes across in the movie.

The dialogues by Kabir Khan & Kausar Munir are strong at some places and it falls flat in a few. But overall the dialogues make sense.

Another major drawback of the movie is the casting. Saif Ali Khan as Daniel Khan looks a bit too casual for the role, though he tries his best to fit into the mould but is grossly unsuccessful. Rather he looks as if he has just walked out of “Agent Vinod” and entered the sets of “Phantom” as he enacts Daniel Khan with the same tempo. The rugged RAW agent gait just like Akshay Kumar in “Baby” is missed in this movie. Katrina Kaif as Nawaz Mistry looks hardly an agent and looks more like a beautiful Barbie doll who is decked up even in Syrian war sequences. Sometimes she looks confused and out of place in the movie, overall an average performance. Sabyasachi Chakrabarty as the Raw Chief Roy stands out and gives a restrained performance and suits the role to the “T”. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub as Mishra a worker in RAW who creates a plan for Daniel is the best performance of the movie; he overshadows everybody including the lead cast. Rest of the cast does the job well.
It is Aseem Mishra’s cinematography which elevates the movie, whether it is London, Chicago, Beirut or Lebanon, all are captured with élan. Rajat Potdar’s production design compliments the story and is also a highlight of the movie. Subarna Rai Chaudhuri’s costume designing is another highlight; it blends with the various countries shown in the movie. Kudos to the technical team of “Phantom” for making it worth a watch.

Music by Pritam gets lost in the proceedings; apart from “Afghan Jalebi” none of the other tracks make any impact.

Kabir Khan is successful in making a technically brilliant movie, but a weak lead pair and a script which has inconsistencies makes “Phantom” an average film. Especially after the brilliant “Baby” by Neeraj Pandey which falls in the same genre, “Phantom” lacks the punch which is required in such thrillers.Definitely not Kabir Khan’s best…

“Phantom” could have been a brilliant spy drama falls short, hence I will go with Three stars…..

Movie Rating: 3 Stars (3 / 5)

In case you have missed the trailer, watch it again

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