RRR (Rise Roar Revolt) (2022)
RRR (Rise Roar Revolt) (2022)

Genre: Action and Drama Running Time: 3 hrs. 7 min.

Release Date: March 25th, 2022 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: S.S. Rajamouli Actors: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan Teja, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Olivia Morris, Shriya Saran, Ray Stevenson, Alison Doody, Edward Sonnenblick

 


 

I

n the Adilabad Forest of pre-independent India (1920s), feared hunter Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his wife Catherine (Alison Doody) purchase a young girl (Twinkle Sharma) from a tribal villager, which causes consternation as the parents mistakenly believed they were being paid for a small service instead. When the mother pleads for her child back, Buxton has the woman bludgeoned – as an English bullet would be too valuable to waste on the task. A short time later, on the outskirts of Delhi, a massive swell of protestors storm a British police outpost, prompting a single soldier, A. Rama Raju (Ram Charan Teja), dubbed “The Fire,” to fight his way through the mob and disperse them, much to the shock of everyone who witnesses the ordeal. But it isn’t even enough to gain him a distinction among the ranks.

When Buxton refuses to give back the girl, the villagers turn to Komaram Bheem (N.T. Ram Rao Jr.), called “The Water,” a man who will stop at nothing to get her back. And it certainly helps that he fights tigers with his bare hands in his spare time. But the British Raj have their own weapon in Raju, tasked with dispatching Bheem – or capturing him alive, which would finally award him with a coveted promotion. “They will kill all of us!”

The initial premise is curiously reminiscent of “The Departed” (or “Infernal Affairs” before it), as Raju goes undercover to ferret out his nemesis, though Fire and Water will eventually join forces to combat the shared evil of colonial subjugation. Stylistically, the opening moments resemble “300” with the abuse of slow-motion, the vaulting stunts across various structures that defy gravity, and the unnecessary and dramatic violence, while the computer-animated animal duels and over-the-top rescue sequences suggest an outrageous take on Michael Bay’s designs. But despite the wild, fantastical look, the tone continues to shift dramatically, transitioning into a culture-clash reversal of “Cinderella” with its love story (involving British socialite Jenny [Olivia Morris]), complete with anticipated yet no less clamorous and rollicking dance-off (in which the two leads traipse across the dance floor and countless other sets like a high-quality music video). And Bheem and Raju engage in quite the epic bromance in the process (with plenty of absurd montages).

“Good god!” The racism and persecution is considerable, with the conquering British as an obvious source of villainy, while the plot is meaty, jumping around with flashbacks (and flashbacks within flashbacks), communications with the tribe and backstory fills (including extensive accounts of how characters came to be), criss-crossing relationships (all unbelievably coincidental), and subplots galore (such as a deadly snakebite that achieves virtually nothing). Clearly, the intention is to pack “RRR” with every genre imaginable, composing a whopping three-hour extravaganza of extravagant heroism – so inordinately exaggerated that it’s regularly laugh-out-loud comical. Many of the action sequences are more pose-riddled, physics-dismissive, and immortality-laden than current Hollywood superhero movies, but they tend to work better here due to a certain self-awareness concerning the level of senselessness (such as when Bheem throws a leopard onto an enemy trooper). It’s as if the picture isn’t ever trying to be literal in its depictions … of anything. “Aren’t you quite vicious, my dear.”

Unfortunately, despite the relish in hyperbolic style, there isn’t actually much originality. The story is fairly straightforward, even if buried beneath abundant details and derivations of all sorts of well-known properties (including, perhaps, “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Raid 2,” “The Patriot,” and “Inglourious Basterds” among many others). Even the mix of adventure and drama and romance, embellished with songs and dancing, isn’t particularly unique in the world of Bollywood (or Tollywood, as this uses the Telugu language), nor are the revelations surrounding Raju’s loyalties, which appear evident long before the numerous hints at his motives. Though it undoubtedly has its entertaining moments, weaving a glimmer of history into the premise with its use of real-life revolutionaries, as well as boasting some inspirational elements of rebellion against oppression and superhuman feats of redemption (like an overstimulated Rambo), it’s simply too long, repetitive, and even predictable. It does, however, feature some superb cinematography as it wholly embraces its extreme style-over-substance approach (particularly with its colossal, explosive, larger-than-life finale). “There’s arrows coming out of everywhere!”

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10