When a director opts to act in his own movie, he ought to ensure he has absolute control on at least one, if not both, of those skills. Remake specialist Nishikant Kamat (Force; Drishyam) casts himself as a one-tone bad guy in his remake of a Korean thriller, The Man From Nowhere, and forsakes restraint in both his departments. He plays Kevin, a drug dealer and organ trader who operates various cartels along with his ridiculously psychotic brother, Luke (Teddy Maurya).

The story, however, pivots around a stoic, hunched and hefty pawnshop owner, referred to as Handsome. Handsome (John Abraham) lopes around Goa’s villages disinterestedly buying fish, and equally disinterestedly cooking it for his jabbering and damaged young neighbour Naomi. The child, played by Diya Chalwad, has been costumed in an obviously oversized wig, creating the first point of distraction and annoyance. Add to this Naomi’s mother, Anna (Nathalia Kaur), a pole dancer, drug addict and thief who doesn’t care a hoot for her daughter.

When Kevin and Luke track down the person who stole their drugs, they kidnap both Anna and Naomi with the aim of reclaiming their loot, selling Anna’s organs on the black market and handing over Naomi to a child trafficker (Suhasini Mulay). Handsome gets involved in this situation, and something within him snaps (or so we must believe, since he continues to maintain his stoical expression).

The present-day events are intercut with flashbacks from Handsome’s past—a happy life with a pregnant wife (Shruti Haasan) that ended in deeply wounding tragedy. The once smiling, contented man is now a brooding mystery.

Largely forsaking script and performance, Kamat depends on the action scenes, which are too obviously choreographed. The three major set pieces may not impress those who have been exposed to films like The Raid: Redemption and its sequel. Abraham makes for a stiff martial arts action star, using only his upper body in practised moves rather than more fluid movements of the whole. The dreadful supporting cast is exaggerated and psychotic in its behaviour, seemingly trying to imitate Nana Patekar of Parinda.

The moment when Handsome’s real identity is revealed is tepid and underlines the emotional vacuousness of the script. The punch-by-numbers action scenes are not enough to save a film with poorly pitched performances, out-of-tune casting and tacky execution.

Rocky Handsome released in theatres on Friday.

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