Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Latest Release, ‘Leo’: A Cinematic Rollercoaster Led by Vijay


In his latest cinematic offering, ‘Leo,’ Lokesh Kanagaraj reunites with his ‘Master’ star, Vijay, to create a high-octane action thriller. This film, although inspired by David Cronenberg’s ‘A History of Violence,’ is quintessentially Kanagaraj – a testament to his prowess as a filmmaker.

‘Leo’ may not maintain the same level of action-packed intensity in its second half and occasionally falters in weaving together past and present storylines. However, Kanagaraj’s distinctive narrative style, action sequences, and references to characters and situations from his previous works keep the audience engaged. It’s clear that Kanagaraj is building a unique cinematic universe.

The film kicks off with a gripping sequence where ruthless gangsters, led by the formidable Mysskin, wreak havoc in a government official’s home, leaving a trail of bloodshed. This brutality is juxtaposed with the terror brought on by a spotted hyena in a small Himachal Pradesh town. Kanagaraj wastes no time between these two events, setting the tone for what’s to follow.

The protagonist, Parthiban (played by Vijay), runs a coffee shop in Theog and lives a seemingly quiet life with his wife Sathya (Trisha) and their two children. However, when gangsters threaten his daughter and an employee, he serves them a dose of their own medicine with bullets aimed at their foreheads in another adrenaline-pumping action sequence. He also rescues, tames, and befriends the spotted hyena.

This is as far as Kanagaraj delves into exploring the philosophy of violence and the psychology of a cornered human, akin to ‘A History of Violence.’ The Canadian director’s film had layers of complexity because neither the filmmaker nor the lead actor, Viggo Mortensen, overshadowed the project.

In ‘Leo,’ a Tamil film also released in Hindi, it’s Lokesh Kanagaraj’s domain, undeniably ruled by Vijay. While this gives Kanagaraj complete control over the material, the star power of Thalapathy often overshadows the storytelling, leading to style trumping substance.

For ardent fans, this is a double delight, with the film brimming with elements designed to thrill the audience. Yet, ‘Leo’ lacks a deep emotional impact, favoring fan service over profound storytelling. The film attempts to make up for this with show-stopping moments, which are abundant but sometimes at the expense of the film’s depth.

‘Leo’ features a cinematographer, Manoj Paramahansa, who recently revealed an intriguing perspective on the film’s flashback. Although the flashback in the film garnered a mixed response, Manoj suggests that it may not be as straightforward as it seems. He hints that the flashback might intentionally mislead viewers, suggesting that it could be false and meant to keep the audience guessing.

While some viewers may find this theory intriguing, others argue that it’s a questionable explanation. They believe that if the filmmakers intended a false flashback, it should have been clarified conclusively in the film’s narrative, as cinema relies on visual storytelling. Some criticize this as a diversion from addressing the actual issues with the film’s flashback.

Despite the debate surrounding the flashback, ‘Leo’ has been performing remarkably well at the box office. The film earned a substantial 148Cr gross worldwide on its first day, with a second-day gross in India reaching 44Cr. Overseas collections are also expected to be strong, projecting a total two-day gross exceeding 220Cr.”

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