Director: Lokesh Kanakaraj
Cast: Vijay, Trisha, Sanjay Dutt, Arjun, Priya Anand, Mansoor Ali Khan and others
Producer: Lalit Kumar
DoP: Manoj Paramahamsa
Duration: 164 mins
Rating: 3.5 stars
Director Lokesh Kanakaraj comes up with an explosive action entertainer in his eagerly-awaited Leo, the plot of which is substantially different from the plots of his other films.
Leo gets off to a great start with a gang of criminals murdering some people and then looking to get away from the long arm of the law.
The story then shifts its focus to Himachal Pradesh, where a middle-aged restaurant owner called Parthiban (Vijay) lives happily with his wife Sathya (Trisha), daughter Chintu and son Siddhu (Mathew Thomas).
Parthiban is an animal lover who has a way of dealing with animals. Therefore, his services are often sought by the forest ranger of the region, Joshy (Gautham Vasudev Menon).
It is under these circumstances that one night, the criminals, who have been left in the lurch by those who employed them to commit the murders, arrive.
Without money and on the run, they look to rob business entities to survive.
Headed by a character played by Mysskin, the gang is desperate for money. Posing a big head ache to him is a psychopath (Sandy) who is shown as a ruthless killer.
The criminals are on the lookout for an isolated cash-rich business entity to loot one night, when a Tamil song from Parthiban’s cafe draws the psychopath to it.
Parthiban, who is with his daughter and a woman employee who is in the process of winding up for the day, is surprised to see a customer come through despite the closed sign being displayed.
He asks the psychopath to leave but to no avail. Soon, the other members in the psychopath’s gang arrive and Parthiban has no other option but to kill the criminals to protect the lives of his child and his employee.
Parthiban’s act of killing the criminals is construed as an act of self defence by a court which frees him. Just when he and his family begin to think that their problems are over, more problems arrive…
Director Lokesh Kanakaraj comes up with an intense and action heavy entertainer that is engaging for the most part.
Some sequences in the film remind you that this is a trademark film of Lokesh Kanakaraj. Take for example the manner in which the hero fights off gangsters. One man taking on 30 or 40 odd gangsters and emerging victorious is something that one has often witnessed in Lokesh Kanakaraj’s films before. In this film too, one gets to see such fights on at least a couple of occasions.
Lokesh seems to have tried a couple of ideas in Leo that he hasn’t tried before in his films and that has paid off rich dividends.
A classic example would be a fight sequence that happens in the protagonist’s cafe in the first half. Ideally, you would expect to hear a high-on energy track as the background score when an explosive action sequence is presented on screen. Instead, Lokesh has the highly enjoyable romantic rural folk number ‘Thamara Poovukum Thannikkum..’ number from director Bharathiraja’s film ‘Pasumpon’ playing in the background.
The film works because of the excellent contributions made by a host of actors.
Top among such contributers is dance choreographer Sandy Master, who plays the psychopath in the film. He delivers a completely powerful performance and showcases a side seldom seen so far.
Ace director Mysskin as the gang leader of Sandy’s gang is equally impressive. He might not come across as being as mean as Sandy but he portrays the character of someone who is not completely in charge of a powerful team, having to deal with an overwhelming situation perfectly well.
Another exceptioanl director — Gautham Vasudev Menon — delivers an outstanding performance as the forest ranger Joshy.
Trisha just delivers an exceptional performance, without breaking a sweat.
Vijay carries the film on his shoulders. The part that he appears as Leo is more impressive than the part he appears as Parthiban.
Sanjay Dutt as Antony Das and Arjun as his younger brother Harold Das deliver commanding performances. Sanjay Dutt has no trouble portraying the brutal character of Antony Das and Arjun compliments him beautifully, with an equally impressive performance.
George Mariyan, despite a small role, delivers yet another impressive performance. Mariyan’s character in the film, Napoleon, is the only legitimate character that connects this film to Lokesh’s Cinematic Universe (LCU).
The film also has a connection to Kamal Haasan-starrer Vikram but the scenes that establish that connection appear forced.
Manoj Paramahamsa’s camera gleefully captures the beauty of Himachal Pradesh and Anirudh Ravichander’s scintillating scores lift the film to another level.
In all, Leo might not be Lokesh Kanakaraj’s finest film but it certainly scores as an entertainer.