Complaining that there is gratuitous violence in ‘Kill’ is pointless, because the film is nothing but a string of sequences oozing with an overwhelming degree of blood-and-gore, a quantum we haven’t seen in Hindi cinema before. This is a no-holds-barred, brutal pro-max, going for the jugular-and-everywhere-else film, which bows to genre conventions as it starts the way it means to go on: slash, bang, thud, rinse, repeat.

The one line story – two commandos up against a bunch of bandits who invade a train going from Ranchi to Delhi – is basically an excuse for the action director and the fight choreographer to conjure up the many ways to kill a man. And, yes, a woman.

Those who are fans of genre movies, and have been watching the South Koreans show us how it is done (‘Train To Busan’, ‘Snowpiercer’), will find the desi ‘Kill’ derivative. But that will be ignoring how much this Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s fast-and-furious tale is its own creature, which takes care to surround us with familiar elements, even when ratcheting the kill quotient as high as it can go: the good guys are patriotic. Army commandos, the bad guys are modern day versions of the good ol’ dakus, there is romance in the air, the young lovers stealing moments in the crowd, and the overweight cops, as always, bring up the rear.

A film which calls itself ‘Kill’ allows for no nuance. We know, going in, that there will be blood. The question is: just how ‘palatable’ is this ‘maar-dhhad’? Will it make us wince in horror, and close our eyes against the relentlessness of it all? Or will it become a spectator sport, where we, the viewers, will cheer on the good fellas, willing them to smash the baddies to pulp?

On that score, I can tell you that while I did the wincing and closing-the-eyes bit, I also succumbed to a moment or two of visceral delight at both seeing the bad guys get theirs, as well as marveling at the action experts. who made each of these kills differently, using different parts of the train, and different methods of killing, to the hilt.

Festive offer

There’s also an excuse for all the carnage in the slender storyline which has just enough weight to carry all this slashing-and-shooting: one of the commandos, Amrit (Lakshya) is in love with Tulika (Tanya Maniktala), who is on the train with her heavy dad Thakur Baldev Singh (Harsh Chhaya) and younger sister (Adrija Sinha); the other, Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan), equally skilled in weaponry and single-hand combat, is also busy fulfilling that old Bollywood trope, as the hero’s best friend.

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The posse of dakus is led by a son-and-father duo (Raghav Juyal as Fani, and Ashish Vidyarthi as Beni), and once the bets are off, triggered by a killing which feels even more gratuitous than the others, it’s a free -for-all, and the body count piles in grisly, grotesque ways. One, involving a fire extinguisher and a human head, is going to give me nightmares, despite my high tolerance for the shoot-and-scoot kind of movie.

The things that make this film distinctively desi also distract from the main task: the romantic bits between Amrit and Tulika remain banal but mercifully brief, as Lakshya is much better at snarling-and-killing than canoodling; and the insistence on making the bad guys human (there are tears when they find their compatriots twisted in shapes no living being can pull off, boo hoo), comes off more a digression than anything else. Making Fani this baddie who can switch easily between funny-and-vicious is also a trope, riffing off Bollywood dialogues, and coming up with his own (‘tum Rakshak ho ya Raakshas’?) even though Juyal is the most effective part of this. film: he makes us enjoy him being a terrible human being.

The film itself makes itself desi because of all its references, from ‘DDLJ’ (can there be a pair of lovers on a train which doesn’t remind us of that iconic love-story?) to ‘QSQT’ (heavy-handed Thakur dads are clearly still in vogue), to the hero’s name which is that of a film in which our boys from the Army won over an enemy, to the old ‘dhanda’ of ‘chori-chakaari’ and ‘firauti’? But it’s also savage enough to really raise the stakes – it doesn’t pussy foot about trying to save all the main characters and sacrifice the ‘sidies’ – which then gives Amrit reason to rampage the way he does.

So, that’s where it comes down to. Are you a fan of movies in which piling up bodies is the only reason for their existence, in which each kill comes wrapped in stylistic flourishes which then invites a counter and that’s how it goes, back and forth? And have you been thirsty for a desi Bullet Train, Die Hard, John Wick, or all of the above? Then this one’s for you.

‘Kill’ is a lean, mean killing machine. Get out of the way, if you’re faint of heart. Or hold your breath, and swing aboard for a wild, wild ride.

Kill movie cast: Lakshya, Raghav Juyal, Tanya Maniktala, Abhishek Chauhan, Ashish Vidyarthi, Adrija Sinha, Harsh Chhaya
Kill movie director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhatt
Kill movie rating: 3.5 stars