If the detailed social realism of the Dardenne brothers represents one kind of cinema, RRR is its polar opposite. S.S. Rajamouli’s three-hour-plus epic is a riot of outrageous spectacle, gravity-defying stunts, colour, song and dance, big emotions and a menagerie of CG animals. It feels like the kind of film that looks great in a clip on Twitter but is disappointing when you sit down and watch the whole thing. But have no fear — RRR (it stands for “Rise! Roar! Revolt!”) is a big, gaudy, sledgehammer-subtle slice of escapist cinema that is fun from first frame to last.



Set in 1920s India, the plot, as it is, pits soldier Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and villager Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr) against the British Empire, represented by Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson, terrible) and his even more vindictive wife Catherine (Alison Doody, who wields a particularly nasty whip as a reminder of her Indiana Jones days), after the Brits kidnap Bheem’s kid sister. Raju and Bheem are introduced in fantastic fashion — the former performing an in-camera version of The Matrix Reloaded’s ‘burly brawl’ to apprehend a wrong’un, the latter outrunning a wolf and then shouting down a tiger — and then come together to save a little boy in a river on fire (don’t ask) using a motorcycle, a horse, a rope and a ridiculous feat of timing that puts Spider-Man bridge-rescues to shame. This is all in the first half hour.

RRR never runs out of steam — the dust-ups of the final jungle battle feel as fresh as the opening scene.

From here, the inventiveness and originality of the action escalates to giddy levels, often completely oblivious to the laws of physics. The quality of the VFX is variable but it doesn’t matter, partly because Rajamouli has got such a great eye for brazen movie heroics and partly because it has so much spirit it is easy to be carried along (to wit, there is a fantastic set-piece as Raju batters Brit stooges while being hoisted aloft on Bheem’s shoulders).


In-between the fighting there are heavy-handed, John Woo-esque thematics (loyalty, brotherhood, identity), low comedy as Bheem tries to woo English rose Jenny (Olivia Morris), and catchy musical numbers — the best of the bunch being a dance-off as Raju and Bheem show the stiff shirts of the Raj how it’s done. The plotting is creaky and the writing ham-fisted (“Take the special forces and nail the bastards”), but it wins the day thanks to Rajamouli’s bravura, the infectious charisma of Charan and Rama Rao Jr, ace filmmaking talent (M.M. Keeravani’s huge score, A. Sreeker Prasad’s propulsive editing) and the imagination of the stunt team. RRR never runs out of steam — the dust-ups of the final jungle battle feel as fresh as the opening scene — meaning that 185 minutes run by in the blink of a digital tiger’s eye.

It may have a tenuous relationship with nuance, but RRR FULL MOVIE is a bombastic delight. Making the Fast And Furious series look restrained by comparison, it hits the parts Hollywood actioners just can’t reach. Rise! Roar! Revelation!



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