It isn’t often that a film lives up to its hype. Thaandavam (U) does. Espionage, crime and vendetta are view-worthy subjects, and when all three are dealt with at tandem the result is generally engaging. Thaandavam is. International spying and sabotage on an imposing canvas is sure to impact. It does.

Thaandavam is a classy take on love and villainy. Only that the reason for the avenging spree isn’t new. But the modus operandi is. Like we often see on screen, it all boils down to revenge for the death of near and dear. Thaandavam is another addition to the plumage in Vijay’s cap!

A film that highlights Vijay’s skill as director and his eye for detail and a worthy addition to the repertoire of the ‘V’s!

The story is about RAW officer Shivakumar. A crucial case that could have disastrous ramifications takes him to London, where one shock after another greets him, leads to chaos and shatters his life’s dream. Certain aspects of visual challenge aren’t clearly explained, so you don’t quite understand the hero’s clicking of the tongue to sense sound! And friend Sharath’s (Jagapathi Babu) reason for avarice doesn’t hold water either, because his justification is rather contrived.

Shooting in foreign lands is common. But a country forming the backdrop for most part of a film is a rarity in Tamil cinema. So much so, after Thaandavam, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Windsor Park will become recognisable places for the Tamil film buff! Undoubtedly, the London milieu is an enticing aspect of Thaandavam. And lens man Nirav Shah’s contribution to the appeal is significant.

‘Chiyaan’ Vikram bounces back to being his invincible self after the eminently forgettable Rajapaatai. Subtle and spontaneous reactions, effective silences and poignant expressions — if you think eyes are the main medium of expression more often than not Chiyaan achieves all these even in the character of the visually challenged Kenny Thomas! Commendable show!

The romance between Shiva (Vikram again) and Meena (Anushka) is a beautiful feature of Thaandavam. The poetic touch Vijay has lent to the segments is alluring, only that despite being melodious, the ‘Uyirin Uyirae’ number works as a speed-breaker, the differently conceptualised ambience (Nagaraj) notwithstanding! It is at this juncture that you begin to feel Vijay could have worked harder to curtail the length of the film. The early scenes of Amy Jackson are another protraction.

A perfect ten for the choice of cast! Be it Anushka as the doctor serious about her profession, Amy Jackson as the beauty queen Sarah Vinayakam or Saranya as Vikram’s mom, the roles fit them like a glove. Yet Lakshmi Rai, who has honed her performance skills over the years, hasn’t been offered enough scope. Santhanam rises above funny lines to impress in a purposeful role. The director springs a surprise through the characters of Jagapathi Babu and Kota Srinivasa Rao — the good and the bad in Thaandavam aren’t easy to spot and that keeps the suspense alive.

G.V. Prakash is emerging as the Little Master of Tamil film music, and Thaandavam consolidates his position further. Scintillating songs and riveting RR enhance the appeal. Together with the lyric (Muthukumar) Prakash’s ‘Oru Paadhi’ in the voices of Haricharan and Vandana bowls you over. ‘Will you be there,’ is a number that exemplifies the editing prowess of Antony and stunt choreography (Manohar Varma) is another excellent feature. It is a strong technical team that backs Vijay. But doesn’t the ant on Vikram’s hand look obviously graphics-generated?

Time and again director Vijay keeps proving his adeptness at various genres — this time it is action. Action that spells intelligence, style and naturalness! Thaandavam spreads out a fiesta for the action buff.