'Tiger 3' review – Time waste or Time pass?
  • Release Date: 12/11/2023
  • Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Emraan Hashmi
  • Director: Maneesh Sharma

“Tiger 3” – Time waste or Time pass?

“Tiger 3”, in many ways, felt like a remake of “Pathaan”, only better. The fact that both films are written by Sridhar Raghavan leaves something to think about in this regard. Indulge me for a moment here. The Pakistani antagonist in “Tiger 3” loses his wife and child to the protagonist of the film, or at least the good guys. He then sets out to do unthinkable, evil things to avenge his lost family members and bring a country to its knees. He goes rogue and international, amassing a great deal of power, wealth, and influence, pulling off feats that no one can explain. The antagonist then goes on to hold the protagonist, in this case, protagonists, under his thumb by having their son in his captivity and forces them to do things that he can then use against them and their country. Following this the protagonists have to pull off a heist in an exotic location, get stuck in enemy territory, get rescued by another superstar from the YRF spy franchise, and finally face off against the antagonist in an elaborate hand-to-hand fight, saving the country under threat (Pakistan in this case). If I didn’t tell you the name of the film and the country of the antagonist, wouldn’t you call it Pathaan?

I was pleasantly surprised by “Tiger 3” because the last thing I was expecting from the film was for Salman Khan to act and here he was actually trying to emote and be dramatic when the situation demanded him to be. After the initial flair and a fantastically designed opening action sequence, the film slips into at least 10-15 minutes of slow build-up as Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif play off each other around an issue that should been integral to the plot. We see Salman doubting his own wife, suspecting her of being a double agent. This is the most heartfelt and dramatic portion of the film, where not much happens but we can sense the entire buildup gradually developing to a major and exciting climax. Not surprisingly, when it finally arrives, it feels well-earned and evokes the kind of emotions that Khan depicts in those moments.

This is also the portion where the feel remains rooted in realism, contributing to its impact and intrigue. True drama can never be fostered in an environment where the characters portray a sense of being invulnerable and untouchable. This is how the Spy-Universe films are designed but, in this portion, “Tiger 3” strives to be something more and personal which I very much liked. One has to agree that Salman and Katrina have a rousing chemistry when it comes to their on-screen romance. The way they play off each other makes a lot of sense, proving to be the core strength apart from the perfectly written sequences in this portion of the film.

Once the basic premise is set, and we are introduced to the antagonist of the film, Atish Rehman (Emraan Hashmi), we are hurriedly presented with a poorly envisioned sequence explaining why Atish Rehman seeks revenge against Pakistan, India, and Tiger himself. The story and screenplay quickly decide to take the tried-and-tested, generic, and predictably familiar path that “Pathaan” had already taken. It rapidly spirals into an uninspiring, pedestrian, and sometimes boringly predictable ballad of somewhat well-choreographed action and forced comedy.

With this, the intrigue and fun in the narrative are overshadowed by a feeling of ‘been there, seen it before,’ which is never a good thing for a spy thriller. These are also the portions where I felt that Sridhar Raghavan took everything, he had in terms of plot twists and story in Pathaan, incorporating only minor changes in characters and setting to make it feel different and new. Sadly, the changes and similarities are so glaring and in-your-face that comparisons are inescapable. Yes, the film feels better, more thought-out, and coherent in terms of the story than “Pathaan”, but that alone is not reason enough to compel audiences to watch essentially the same film twice.

Salman Khan turns in his best performance in years, especially in the initial portions of the film between him and Katrina, which are by far the highlights of the movie in terms of performance. He holds his own in the action sequences, but this time, one needs to urge him to bring in a lot more expressions on his face when he’s pulling off death-defying stunts, especially when the camera focuses on his face. There are scenes where he is shown discharging guns of the highest calibre on the enemies, but there isn’t even a shred of pressure, anxiety, or, for that matter, expression of nudges from the recoil of the gun. This not only took me out of the experience from time to time, as the sequences felt manufactured but also ensured that I could never take the death-defying situations that were meant to be exciting, seriously.

Emraan Hashmi as Atish Rehman is one snooze-fest of a villain, and it’s not because of his performance. The character is written with such unimaginable disrespect for originality and swagger that within minutes of his introduction, he becomes one of the most generic, uninspiring, predictable, and one-dimensional villains you’ll ever see in a Hindi film. In “Pathaan”, John had the swagger and a menacing presence in front of a rather small and not-so-intimidating Shah Rukh Khan. However, Emraan and Salman are almost the same size, and with years of heroism and Salman’s brand of ‘bhaijan-ism’ behind him, Salman Khan dominates every scene they share. The fact that the writers give Emraan more lines and less to do makes it worse for his performance. The plans that the character wants to execute are also poorly written, making them feel laughable. I don’t even want to get into those not-so-finer details because if I do, the film will fall apart even further.

Katrina Kaif is as good as she is allowed to be in a film where Bhai is keeping her company. As I mentioned twice earlier, she hits it out of the park in the initial sequences where there are tender moments between her and Salman. She looks great and pulls her weight in the action sequences, even with the heavy use of body doubles. There isn’t much for her to do in terms of acting throughout the rest of the film.

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Having said all that, the worst aspect of the film for me was the cameo of “Pathaan”. I have no idea why people are going gaga about it as it felt forced, unfunny, and out of place in a portion that needed a lot more seriousness and heroism to extract inspiration and bravura expression from the audience. On the contrary, what this sequence does is introduce a period of buffoonery that will only cater to some of the most die-hard fans of the actors who don’t mind watching these two just show up on the screen. Even the meta take on the scene through the dialogues was not enough to absolve the makers of the crime against the audiences that they committed by keeping such a lacklustre and totally different sequence in a period in the film where the need of the hour was seriousness.

“Tiger 3” does showcase Salman Khan in one of his best performances in years, with standout moments shared with Katrina Kaif, but the film ultimately falters as it succumbs to predictability, mirroring the formula of “Pathaan.” Emraan Hashmi’s portrayal of the antagonist lacks originality, falling flat in comparison to some of the other antagonists in Hindi films over the years. The forced cameo of “Pathaan” disrupts the film’s tone, introducing an unwarranted period of buffoonery. Despite its strengths, the movie struggles to break free from clichés, leaving audiences with a sense of familiarity rather than the fresh experience they might have anticipated. The film also lacks heroism in its action and thrilling moments, and the absence of a pulsating background score is felt. Overall, “Tiger 3” is a mediocre film that may be enjoyed if expectations are kept low.

Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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