By Subhash K Jha, IANS
Hollywood remakes are at best of times only an occasion for the adapted version to be ridiculed. This one, just about, escapes ridicule by the scruff of the neck. If you haven't seen Michael Mann's COLLATERAL you wouldn't know that nearly every moment in THE KILLER is inspired by the original. And what isn't derived isn't worth the script's while.
Thankfully, the two unlikely partners in the confused collaboration between a callow cabbie and his criminal passenger are played by actors who seem oblivious of what Jamie Fox and Tom Cruise did in the original. There are some interesting moment of shared camaraderie between Irrfan Khan and Emran Hashmi. They are given some crisp lines to mouth. The words allow them to cross the line of morality and explore with delicious audacity the chasm between crime and morality.
Darkish in tone, the interface between the two actors is often broken by songs featuring the exuberant romantic lead (Nisha Kothari) who walks in with a confident swagger that could have damaged the film's taut equilibrium. She manages to intrude without disrupting the main drama which involves just two characters and a series of brutal murders. The cops on the killer's trail are so caricatural, crime gets glorified by osmosis.
A lot of what transpires is true to 'tripe'. But the narration has a certain momentum that the co-directors don't allow to be lost till the feverish finale when in a mall-climax; the inexperienced cabbie finally takes on the ruthless assassin.
The incidental characters are kept at a hand's distance from the revved-up plot. But finally you aren't really interested in the body count. You just want to know why a section of Bollywood chooses to remake American flicks that have no cultural roots in Hindi cinema.
Realizing this, the location is shifted to Dubai. The urgently-loaded airport, over-loaded highways and the sleek malls lend themselves well to the sense of impending doom.
For the rest, the film is largely a pointless take on what constitutes the anatomy of crime.
As the simple-hearted cabbie interacts with the crime-lord we don't really get to know why criminals behave in a particular way.
All we see are two differently-profiled actors holding up the film for all it's worth.