Wild Dog movie review: Nagarjuna’s film skips on inventive storytelling for a no-frills action thriller
Despite its packaging and pace, Wild Dog presents an overwhelming sense of familiarity in terms of characters and their motivations, leaving not much room for surprises.
Covert missions, undercover operations, cross-border terrorism, and a team of officers who want to succeed at any cost…connect these dots and you’ll find the blueprint for a slew of action thrillers in recent times. Nagarjuna-starrer Wild Dog is the latest addition in this ever-growing list of films that focus on the extent to which investigative agencies and secret agents go to safeguard the nation from criminals and terrorists. Directed by Ahishor Solomon, the story is inspired from an undercover operation, led by five NIA officers, to nab Yasin Bhatkal in Nepal in 2013. At its helm is Vijay Varma, popularly known as Wild Dog within the National Investigative Agency (NIA), who’ll stop at nothing to complete the task.
The story opens in 2010 in Pune, where a terrorist targets a popular bakery. The government hands over the case to NIA officer, Vijay Varma (Nagarjuna), who reinstates his team - Ali (Ali Reza), Rudra Goud (Prakash Sudarshan), Caleb Matthews (Mayank Parakh), and Hashwanth Manohar (Pradeep) - to investigate the case. A clue from the blast site leads them to a suspect who Vijay believes is the mastermind behind the series of bomb blasts in the country. With the help of Arya Pandit (Saiyami Kher), the team of NIA officers go on a wild goose chase to arrest this terrorist who becomes numero uno in NIA’s Most Wanted List.
Right from the beginning, Ahishor Solomon keeps his focus on narrating a no-frills action thriller and dives straight into the story. There are no elaborate backstories about the characters and we pretty much understand why Vijay Varma is highly regarded within the agency, without a big explanation of his traits. And before we know it, Vijay takes charge and starts connecting the dots about the suspect in the bakery blast case. The good part about Wild Dog is that Solomon keeps things simple and gives us a ringside view of the proceedings. The film gathers more pace in the second half of the story when it shifts to Nepal before culminating in a tense climax sequence.
However, Wild Dog also leaves a major sense of deja vu. It’s certainly not the first-of-its-kind action thriller that explores covert mission or undercover operations. There’s an overwhelming sense of familiarity in terms of the motivations of the characters, and the choices people make and in turn, this doesn’t leave any room for surprises. This is one of the reasons why the film, especially in the first half, doesn’t feel like a truly immersive experience. Thankfully, it takes a different turn as the proceedings unfold further and the emphasis is more on the storytelling rather than the characters.
To give the film its due credit, Wild Dog slowly turns into an engaging experience, thanks to its cinematography, music, and action choreography. Cinematographer Shaneil Deo’s work is brilliant throughout the film, and the fact that there’s never a dull moment in the second half speaks volumes of how well Shaneil captures all the action and drama in the mountains. Thaman adds plenty of tempo with his thumping background score, and the action choreography is top-notch. And the cast too truly shines in the action sequences and each one of them fits into their respective roles effortlessly.
For Nagarjuna, Wild Dog offers a different canvas, and that he pulls off the action sequences and adrenaline-pumping moments convincingly is testimony for his zeal to do something different. Saiyami Kher shines in her role as a RAW agent and the rest of the cast too does justice to their roles.
Wild Dog doesn’t quite find its feet when Solomon focuses on the investigation. It’s neither smart nor inventive in terms of its storytelling or drama. But once it moves into the wilderness, it unshackles itself and finds its stride with each step. That's when the film finds its rhythm and gives us a reason to root for the characters, without being too jingoistic.
As the writing becomes increasingly hollow, the director increasingly relies on loud music and grand frames of Mammootty to get by.
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