Movie Review: ‘Phantom’ by Neha Ravindran 

Movie: Phantom

Director: Kabit Khan

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub

Genre: Action Thriller

26/11 Mumbai attack is a sore memory in the heart and mind of every Indian. I recall those three days very vividly where I spent every waking hour, eyes glued to news reports, cursing every man who dared to sneak into our lives and disrupt it with their brutality and cowardice targeted at innocents. Phantom is a story about revenge on the lines of Operation Neptune Spear (Osama Bin Laden’s killing by American Intelligence agencies) to kill the top leaders involved in the planning an execution of 26/11 attack.

R.A.W. receives intelligence reports hinting on the possibility of a terrorist attack in India. In the aftermath of 26/11, the surge for revenge pushes the R.A.W. chief to form an unofficial team to kill the masterminds behind the terrorist attacks. Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan) an ex-serviceman is chosen for this mission and he is helped by Nawaz (Katrina Kaif) who is an undercover agent in London. However, their mission will not be complete till they infiltrate into Pakistan and kill the popular extremist leaders who are revered leaders in the country. Will they risk it all for the sake of their nation?

Kabir Khan is known for his persistent fascination with Indo-Pak relations. All his movies, Kabul Express, Ek tha Tiger, New York etc. explore a similar theme only under varying genres. Phantom is his first venture into a serious action thriller. Sadly, the movie lacks a crispness that is expected from action thrillers especially the ones involving intelligence operations. The screenplay by Kabir Khan and Parveez Shaikh is a very loose plot which strides solely on the idea of ‘vigilante justice’. Explanations of why Saif’s character is court marshalled or the association of Katrina’s character with R.A.W. are vague flimsy details that flit in and out of the scene without clarity. In the first half, seems to be played on fast forward as it takes a long time to connect the scenes and make sense of what exactly is happening (not that it made sense!). And the so called R.A.W. agents will remind you of the govt. officials who mechanically go about their work without much an exertion on their brains.

The character sketches are very pathetic especially Katrina’s who initially is just an informer, then turns out to be an ex-R.A.W agent and the icing on the cake is when she decides to accompany Daniyal on the mission. Eerr.. wasn’t the whole idea to recruit just a lone man for the operation to ensure anonymity? So, clearly, the director forgot his own plotline and kept forgetting several crucial common-sense facts till the very end like if the Indian Navy crosses international waters, is akin to violation of security agreement, leading to a tense situation. To add to that, the dramatic Jack-Rose scene, plucked out of the Hollywood movie Titanic, was just too much to digest.

Phantom is a one-time watch for the sake of a euphemistic idea of vigilante policing which is fun on paper but not practical in reality. It lacks the trademark Kabir Khan entertainment quotient. August has indeed been a disappointing month for movie lovers!

My verdict: **


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