Within seven months, we have another film based on the terror attacks on Mumbai on 26/11. This January, we had Neeraj Pandey's BABY. Now, we have PHANTOM by Kabir Khan, who only a few weeks ago, gave us BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN.
PHANTOM, which is somewhat on the lines of BABY, deals with a situation wherein a top defense agency of the country undertakes a 'secret mission' without the knowledge of the government, to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to their knees.
They want to get even with the Pakistani forces that shamed and humiliated the nation. They want to eliminate every face behind the attack. But they need a person who is not only as mad as the terrorists (who came in by sea to wreak havoc), but also smart.
They find their man in Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan) who has been dismissed from the army for allegedly running away from his base, leaving his crew in danger. This is his time to redeem his name. Daniyal does what he is sent out to do and in the bargain also sneaks into Pakistan to get rid of the mastermind. He is helped by Nawaz (Katrina Kaif), whose real reason for being a part of this mission has been kept a mystery, even from the viewer.
Kabir Khan never has a grip of this story. However, he does have his moments of brilliance, shining in patches. The real-life war-zone scenes created in Syria are close to real but the viewer is never in the tale, like in BABY.
The situation is sketchy, the storyline (although the motive is clear) does not captivate and unlike BABY, Khan never keeps the tone and tenor intact. Certain situations are so convoluted that he is hoping [in the midst of gunfire], all will be forgotten.
Like for instance, when Danyial goes to Syria to meet the people who will take him to the mastermind of the 26/11 attack, there is sudden gunfire in the war-zone and the one who was hunting him is now being targeted, while Daniyal and Nawaz are too on a shooting spree. Free for all.
There is too much drama, action and too little substance and Katrina's character sticks out like a sore thumb.
Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub seems to be the only actor who shines apart from cinematographer Aseem Mishra who brings to life war zone scenes and slick car chases and keeps the film visually appealing although everything around it seems to be collapsing.
PHANTOM lacks the finesse of BABY. It's just over-the-top fluff which fails to connect to the 26/11 plot. It also tries desperately to inject some patriotic pride.