Saturday, 27 June 2009

New York

A terrorist film lacking spark...

With the advent of 9/11 forcing the American government to clamp down on terrorism, innocent Muslims live in fear that they may be suspected of terrorist attacks when in reality they do not even condone the act itself. Omar (Neil Nitin Mukuesh) is arrested by the FBI but not because he is a terrorist suspect, but rather so that he can be used to spy upon the leader of a terrorist group working within New York. Omar soon discovers that he has to spy upon his best friend from college, Sam (John Abraham), but does so in order to prove his friends innocence.

The 9/11 wave of films have more or less past and New York happens to be one of the first Bollywood films to tackle the subject. This becomes a slight problem as the film's core theme lacks the contemporary nature to truly challenge political alignments. Though, the film still uses its narrative to good effect by highlighting the jadedness of Omar's current predicament with the lightheartedness of his college years. It is a well formed juxtaposition of Omar's life and highlights just how different the world has become for him. But beyond this the narrative is fairly simple while Omar attempts to become accustomed with Sam's life in order to aid the FBI with their investigation. There are no musical and dance sequences, which would have detracted from the experience, but the cued music in certain scenes do not work to full effect. There is a track in the first half which losses vibrancy a good few minutes before the scene ends, and another track in the latter half of the film which does not suit the mood at all. Though the film never becomes a tight thriller, these oversights lessen the chances the film does have. Finally the film suffers from an overload of political views: first America is seen in a negative light for torturing Muslims and then the films moves to Muslims standing up against terrorism to make a better life for Muslims in America, to name but a few of the issues. These two core messages keep playing until the conclusion and whenever the film appears to be pro Muslim it undercuts this peaceful tone with America hate before Obama as president. The film's themes are muddled, but worse yet they are themes that have already been debated: New York offers nothing new for audiences to engage with.

The ensemble of actors in New York is good but the skill rarely exceeds expectations, but rather all are merely competent enough to see the film through. Abraham is more believable with his fun-loving college self then he is as a man who could be running a terrorist group. However praise must be given to him with his scenes involving him locked up for being a suspected terrorist: the anguish and pain he expresses feels real, but it is just a pity this sort of emotion is not carried throughout the film. Mukesh has a similar transition feeling more believable when defending himself and trying to fix everything then he is in other scenes. Kaif's role, while prominent compared to other films, is still lesser compared to her two male counterparts. Though she does feel more comfortable in this role then she has in previous where it feels like she is wasting any talent she may have. Rounding off the cast is Irrfan Khan as FBI investigator Roshan: he is not the lead but you sort of wish he was. He is a far more the more capable actor and he brings a pedigree to a film which deserves to better then it ends up being.

Considering its subject matter New York is not quite as violent as expected. There is no sex or nudity and language is virtually unnoticed.

New York is an interesting film or should be: its subject matter and political messages all seem rather unnecessary these days. It is great to see a Bollywood film dealing with post 9/11 experiences but it is geared in the wrong way and even confused at the ideology it wishes to have. The narrative shows signs of artistic nature but is too linear in its approach. The actors work with their respective roles but besides Kahn they are not consistent in delivering at their best. New York is a competent film but it is just not refreshing.


Screen date: 26 June 2009
Release date: 26 June 2009


Farzan said...

Cool review, never heard of it, but it sounds like something I should probably catch on TV.

Anonymous said...

A unique concept but an average movie that didn't actually worked so well as it was expected. The issue was genuine but the poor execution made the movie dull. All I can say is that a one time watch.
New York