Language : Malayalam
Director : Jeethu Joseph
Writers : K.R. Krishna Kumar
Cast : Mohanlal , Unni Mukundan, Anusree, Leona Lishoy, Saiju Kurup, Shivada Nair, Aditi Ravi, Priyanka Nair, Nandu, Antony Perumbavoor, Disney James
Genre : Mystery | Thriller
Streaming on Disney Hotstar.
‘There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, as each person has several’ –
Rainer Maria Rilke
Jeethu Joseph’s latest OTT release ’12th Man’ is a whodunit that tries to build its thrills by exploring the possibilities of the above-stated quote. Set against the backdrop of a murder that occurs during a bachelorette, 12th Man manages to be a satisfying thriller but fails to match up to the director’s previous ventures in the same genre.
12th Man is very much reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel. If you’ve watched films like ‘Murder on the Orient Express or the ‘Death on The Nile’, the structuring of the film might feel very familiar; a bunch of characters, a murderer, and a detective/cop who has been bestowed the duty of solving a crime. While it was the investigation that was fascinating in those films, here the film sets the tone with a captivating premise that involves a game that could potentially jeopardize the equation between individuals. It’s a fancy thought, yet it successfully manages to draw our attention towards the film before shifting gears to a thriller mode, irrespective of a few jerks in the beginning.
But this initial excitement fizzles out once the mystery begins to unravel. Jeethu Joseph is a master when it comes to making thrillers with shock-inducing twists, but that never really happens in 12th Man. The key revelations are too primitive and repetitive, leaving only a minimal impact. While the screenplay and execution try to make up for the lack of inventiveness in the backstories, some logical errors are jarringly evident to neglect. The lengthy runtime of 163 minutes doesn’t help the cause either as the film deserved a tighter cut. I’m not saying the film will throw you off with these shortcomings but for the potential it had, 12th Man fails to utilize it. At times it occurred to me that the idea to pitch it as an OTT product has resulted in the surprise elements being compromised.
Jeethu Joseph has tried his best to make the film visually engaging. There is a visible change in his filmmaking and it benefits 12th Man in being watchable. Compared to his debut Bollywood film ‘The Body’, another thriller not written by the director, 12th Man is a far superior product. Screenplay by K.R Krishnakumar packs some fascinating ideas. The writing manages to keep us guessing throughout but falters in providing a satisfying payoff. When you track back the incidents, there is a feeling that they’ve purposely pushed the finale by not addressing some key questions much earlier itself. The transition effects from present to past during the interrogation portions were a catchy tool, although it gets repetitive after a point, much like the film’s major twists. The cinematography enhances the overall mysterious vibe of the film while the bgm does its job of amping up the tension.
Mohanlal plays a character that’s hardly a challenge for the legend. He eases through his character after a cringe-inducing intro sequence. Among the 11 friends – Chandunadh, Sshivada, Anusree, and Priyanka leave an impression with their performances.
On the whole, 12th Man is a watchable whodunit that boasts of a riveting premise but struggles to leave a lasting impact. The curiosity to figure out the culprit keeps you immersed in the happenings but the familiar revelations and lack of wow moments make it a watch and forget kind of murder mystery
Verdict – 3/7 Stars
Jeethu Joseph’s 2nd direct to OTT release along with Mohanlal, after Drishyam 2 and 1st on Disney Hotstar.