Every so often there comes an action film that is so confident, so bold, and so fresh, that you just can’t help to believe that there is hope in the genre beyond just big budget blockbusters starring your favorite actors who once played a superhero. Films like The Raid, John Wick, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Everything Everywhere All at Once all come to mind as works that were destined to change the way action movies are made. The same can now be said of Nikhil Nagesh Bhat‘s Kill.
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The film kicks off when commando Amrit (Lakshya) hitches a ride on a train with his best buddy Viresh in order to save the love of his life, Tulika (Tanya Maniktala) from an arranged marriage. Unfortunately, Amrit’s plans are derailed when a crew of bandits, led by the crazed Fani (Raghav Juyal), storm the train and take all of its passengers hostage. With the odds stacked against them, Amrit and Viresh decide to take matters into their own hands by taking out the gangsters one-by-one in the bloodiest and most violent ways possible.
‘Kill’ Is a Movie Best Watched Knowing as Little as Possible
Kill is a movie that plays best if you know as little about the plot as possible. Don’t watch any of the trailers and do not even think about looking up any spoilers on social media. Sure, the premise sounds like it’s just Die Hard or The Raid on a train, and to a point, it kind of is. Yet that doesn’t stop this film from constantly subverting the audience’s expectations as it throws in some massive twists and turns alongside the excessive amount of blood and gore. If you think that the latest Equalizer and John Wick films will be the most violent action flicks you’ll see all year, think again. Every single action sequence feels like an adrenaline shot of martial arts, knife fights, and body parts being dismembered. Heads are being bashed until they no longer even look human, and skulls are lit on fire like the goons are the human versions of Ghost Rider. At times it feels like a fever dream, but in the best way possible. It’s the kind of bonkers action flick that is best seen with as big of a crowd as possible.
With the level of violence on display, it is more than safe to say that Kill is not for the faint of heart. This is a film that embraces its brutally violent nature and wants the audience to do the same. Those expecting something light or aren’t too comfortable seeing bodies being dismembered may want to sit this one out. Even though Kill was made on a much lower budget than some more popular action movies, it feels big. Bhat is able to make this independent film hit like a blockbuster that has to be seen with the loudest and most vocal audience that you can possibly find.
Once the Action Kicks In, ‘Kill’ Never Slows Down
The opening 15 minutes of Kill are much slower than the rest and the film definitely takes some time to find its groove. Some of the melodrama feels like it’s ripped straight out of some strange soap opera that you’ll occasionally catch in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. The lighting is almost overexposed at points, making it feel like it is a self-parody. With that being said, some of this feels intentional on Bhat’s part, especially since as soon the film switches gear to the action, the hyper-violent and unpredictable tone never shifts. A lot of this is thanks to Lakysha’s committed lead performance as Amrit, proving to be the ultimate badass and showing so much skill and passion for understanding what the film is going for.
The fact that this sotyr is still able to have a heart and give Amrit an emotional journey is another great achievement. It could have easily checked the personality of its lead character at the door and made him feel like some stoic and emotionless soldier. Instead, this film makes him feel vulnerable and human, even if he’s doing things that the large majority of humanity can’t possibly do. However, it is Juyal’s work as the villainous Fani that stands out the most. He goes for broke, delivering a performance that perfectly encapsulates everything that works so well about Kill. Just like Lakysha, he has a massive amount of talent when it comes to showing off his martial arts skills, but even beyond that, he manages to continue to make his character become more and more unpredictable. He already feels like a massive threat within the first 30 minutes, but Juyal goes to levels that one would never even expect as the film comes closer to reaching its final destination.
Kill is every bit as insanely violent as you could hope for. It mixes melodrama, romance, and an aggressive amount of violence in ways that few filmmakers are capable of doing. This is a very specific brand of action movie, especially with its graphic nature, but genre loyalists are likely to embrace Kill as it seems destined to become a cult classic.
Kill premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.