The Financial Express

'Black War' underwhelms despite having a stellar cast

| Updated: January 20, 2023 20:09:21

'Black War' underwhelms despite having a stellar cast

The terror group 'Free Land For Peace' wanted havoc on the city on new year's eve, but the death-defying intervention by ADC Naveed had foiled the terrorist plan. The terrorist leader Khalid vowed to plunge the country into the darkness with his future terror plots, declaring the 'Black War' on the country's law enforcement agencies. And one year later, he has come back to fulfil his vow.

The much-lauded cop thriller 'Mission Extreme' gained popularity last year, sending the anticipation for the sequel off the ceiling. And the sequel 'Mission Extreme 2: Black War' has been released this Friday.

Sunny Sanwar and Faisal Ahmed directed the film. Its star-studded cast includes big names like Arifin Shuvoo, Taskeen Rahman, Jannatul Ferdous Oishee, Sadia Nabila, Sumit Sen Gupta, Misha Shawdagar, Hasan Imam, Fazlur Rahman Babu, Shahiduzzaman Selim, Shatabdi Wadud and Iresh Zaker.

From day one, the film has been unable to create social media buzz, unlike its predecessor, and it has somewhat gone under the radar of the urban middle-class audience. And it was reflected in the theatre, which remained half empty at every show.

The film opens with a gorgeous aerial shot of the river Buriganga; and the city view as the sun rises. It joins with its prequel seamlessly, something a rarity in South Asian films where sequels and prequels have little in common in their souls, except for the titles.

The cinematography was brilliant; it made even Dhaka look dreamy and soulful. The core terror plot at the film's heart was unique and terrifying, making the stakes quite high. The fast-pacing plot had a befitting electric background music that kept the tone high. And it also maintained the menacing terror threat in its atmosphere.

The parts filmed in Dubai were really impressive, as the directors filmed those in a real location, unlike most other films where green screens are the oft-used technique.

The strongest side of the film is its casting. Arefin Shuvoo has undergone an impressive physical transformation for his role and has stayed true to his on-screen persona of a serious cop. And Taskeen Rahman has been his perfect nemesis - cool, calculative, charismatic and cruel. He has nailed his role as the terrorist mastermind.

Sadia Nabila has a greater agency in the plot in this part, and she carries herself easily, unlike her previous film, where she felt a bit uneasy. Shatabdi Wadud and Iresh Zaker played their small parts perfectly, and Manoj Kumar Pramanik shone brilliantly in his cameo.

However, the film has not lived up to its prequel. One of the biggest plus points of 'Mission Extreme' was its gritty realism. Whether it was the police operations or the terrorist plot progression, the film had a distinct local and realistic tone. However, the 'Black War' lacks it completely.

The directors have perhaps sacrificed the realism of the first film to add to the theatrics of the latter, only to make the movie look like Bollywood films, thus introducing over-the-top acting, overbearing emotional dialogues, and chest-thumping bravado. Some scenes were specially picked up from Hindi films like 'The Attacks of 26/11' or 'Uri: The Surgical Strike'. And the plot progressed fast, leaving the audience wondering what was happening.

The costumes did not look as grand as that of its prequel, and the colour grading looked like Instagram filters in places. In the end, the film became predictable. And the forced integration of an item song threw the vibe off the film completely.

Oishee again had no agency in the film; she was there just for the sake of having a romantic interest in the male lead. Several good subplots were forgotten, and the events were sometimes too convenient for the protagonist. Shatabdi Wadud and Fazlur Rahman Babu were underutilised, and it is a shame, as they had such promising subplots.

Two of the film's main criticisms would be its shoehorned product placements; those were unintentionally hilarious. At times of national crisis, the advertisements of LPG cylinders or online marketplace were revolting.

Overall, the film has been an underwhelming experience for the viewers drawn to the theatres after its successful prequel.

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