Khakee (2004)

Rating: B+

Dir: Rajkumar Santoshi
Star: Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, Aishwarya Rai

A group of cops are sent to a rural Indian town to bring back a suspected terrorist for trial – only, they soon discover they perhaps aren’t supposed to succeed. From this simple setup spins off a whole web of deception that contains one twist worthy of 24, a great performance from Bachchan, as training school cop Shrivastav who sees a last chance for glory, and a lot of highly effective moments. As well as action, these include surprising emotional depth, such as a scene where a woman gets news of her husband’s death in action. Yes, this being Bollywood, there are songs too, but less than your average Disney flick, and in a film of this length (almost three hours), take the chance for a bathroom break or a soda.

Refreshingly, although over 60 (giving away several decades to heart-throb Kumar), Bachchan is the star, credible both with his fists, and dialogue that would seem laughable in less experienced hands. Thus, it is he who faces nemesis Angre (Devgan, impressive, despite looking oddly like Bono), a man from Shrivastav’s past, out for both personal revenge and political gain. In contrast, the romance between Kumar and Rai’s characters may seem superfluous; stick to it, though, for a satisfactory pay-off. The film does lag in the middle, with a sequence where our heroes are trapped in a house; like the songs, it’s perhaps a necessary change of pace, and the rest of the film is easily worth your attention. This is another Bollywood action pic that does a better job of keeping you hooked than most recent American product.