Can you complain about the length of a movie that celebrates excess?

Probably not, but it is worth noting that if most of Singam 2 hadn’t proceeded in fast-forward mode, it might have been much longer than its 146 minutes. This is the kind of actioner in which even the sea waves are deemed to be moving too slowly, so they are also subjected to the sideways-pointing-double-arrow gesture.

There is a lot of water-bound activity in the Tuticorin-set Singam 2, in which Tamil superstar Suriya reprises his Singam (2011) role of handsome, honest, duty-bound, fit, mostly polite, family-oriented, God-fearing, flag-waving and heroic super-cop Duraisingam (we warned you about excess). Duraisingam is the ideal man women will never meet, and Part I gave Suriya’s female following several excuses to drool over him. For the men, there were the gravity-defying stunts, the rapid-fire punch dialogue, which Suriya had to yell out rather than speak, the vigilante ending, and Vivek’s nutty comedy track. No wonder Singam was remade in 2011 in Hindi as Singham, starring Ajay Devgn.

The sequel isn’t quite as tightly woven together. Director Hari, who also made the hit supercop movie Saamy (its Hindi remake Policegiri coincidentally released this week), is adept at spicing up routine good-versus-evil stories with clever dialogue and comedy routines, well-etched characters and evocative backdrops. But there’s far too much going on in Singam 2—two heroines (Anushka Shetty and Hansika Motwani), two comedians (Santhanam and Vivek) and at least four identifiable villains including a Nigerian drug smuggler who is disgustingly referred to an “African monkey" at one point.

When the film opens, Suriya is an undercover policeman who’s trying to take down a drug smuggling ring. After battling several reliably venal baddies and staving off the unwelcome attentions of student Shakthi (Motwani), Duraisingam sets aside his cover when a riot breaks out and then finishes what he started in uniform. One difference between Tamil and Hindi action flicks is that the former often yoke the story to social issues to give them topicality. Hari makes passing references to Tamil Nadu’s caste tensions and power crisis—and even the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919.

Clearly, anything goes in this formula film to beat formula films, watchable and bearable because Hari fast-forwards to the next scene before you have registered how ordinary the previous one was, and because of Suriya’s presence and the professionalism with which he hunts down villains, reels off pages of dialogue, and delivers the movie’s trademark open-hand slap with gusto again and again and again. Tamil cinema’s dreamboat has been at sea in the last few years. A.R. Murugadoss’s 7am Arivu and K.V. Anand’s Maatraan were dull affairs; and he hasn’t had a solid role to back his talent in years. Singam proves that he could be a mass hero too. His tragedy is that Singam 2 has no ambition at all. It might have been a better movie otherwise.

Singam 2 released on Friday. Its Hindi-dubbed version will release on 12 July.

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