‘12th Man’ movie review: Mohanlal-Jeethu Joseph combo doesn’t quite hit the mark this time around

A still from ‘12th Man’

A still from ‘12th Man’

At the centre of 12th Man is a group of friends, whom we are told are still very close, years after college. But in all those initial scenes involving them, we wonder whether they are friends or game show participants who are plotting against each other and gossiping behind each others' backs. If this was not enough, the feeling is further accentuated when the film itself shifts into a game show mode with the characters viewing each other with suspicion.

The eleven friends, including their spouses, have got together at a hill station resort to celebrate the bachelor party of the last unmarried person in the group. But the celebratory mood, despite interruptions from a perpetually drunken stranger (Mohanlal), quickly disappears when they decide to play a game to prove that they do not have any secrets to keep from each other. Soon, it appears that most of the people in the group have secrets which could put their friendship in jeopardy. A death which happens later in the night further complicates matters.

In 12th Man, Jeethu Joseph returns yet again to the thriller genre, his most comfortable space, but the script written by K.R.Krishnakumar, based on Sunir Khetarpal's story, brings back memories of the many movies based on Agatha Christie's works. The classic signs of this are in the isolated setting cut off from the outside world, and in the plot where one among a group dies leading to all of the remaining becoming suspects. On top of this familiar setting has been placed a novel idea derived from the much remade Italian film Perfect Strangers, in which a group of friends at a get-together play a game revealing the contents of all the calls and messages that they receive during that time.

It is a concept which has enough in it to keep the audience hooked till the end, but more often than not, one gets the feeling of watching a game show rather than an investigative thriller. The interesting bits are in their behavioural shifts, initially uttering half-truths and even lies, and later attempting to cover up when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

12th Man
Director: Jeethu Joseph
Cast: Mohanlal, Unni Mukundan, Priyanka Nair, Saiju Kuraup, Sshivada, Anusree, Anu Sithara, Rahul Madhav

After a point, the scriptwriter seems to be labouring to turn the needle of suspicion towards each one of them, with quite a few red herrings thrown in. This also has to do with the movie’s runtime, which at over 160 minutes, is a bit of a stretch for such a plot.

The investigation gets long-winded and tiring after a point, so much so that with the suspicion landing on every new person, one wishes for the mystery to get solved soon, only to watch helplessly as another person becomes the suspect. The mystery, when it is finally revealed after all the twists and turns, does not manage to shock us much too. But then, it is unfair to expect a Drishyam from every other movie of Jeethu Joseph.

Ultimately, the familiar settings and a long-winded investigation becomes the undoing of 12th Man, which has derived inspiration from multiple sources.

12th Man is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 10:12:18 pm |