Animal review: Ranbir Kapoor's inner beast is deliciously violent

Film: Animal

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna, Bobby Deol, Tripti Dimri and ensemble

Director: Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Rating: 4.5 Moons

A parent-child relationship is undeniably the purest of all. The love is unconditional with a sense of belonging and protectiveness. But when protectiveness turns into possessiveness, is the relationship still healthy? Almost two decades ago, Karan Johar directed a film titled Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham with the core being, "It's all about loving your parents." Now, Sandeep Reddy Vanga brings a dark tale of “It's all loving your papa,” in Animal. 

In one of the most volatile confession sequences, a character named Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna) tells her husband (Ranbir Kapoor, whose screen name strangely is kept a secret till the interval), "Tumhare papa ke liye tumhara pyaar jog nahi rog hai," and nobody could have described it better. Back in his school days, the young son would leave class mid-day so that he could be at home to celebrate his father, Balbir Singh's (Anil Kapoor) birthday. Even if that meant getting punished by the teacher for disturbing the lecture. 

Gradually, the 'papa' obsessed child grows into a short-tempered yet extremely protective youth who can very casually fire guns in college and threaten boys for ragging his elder sister. The hot-blooded lad knows nothing beyond protecting his loved ones. After an unwanted incident, Balbir sends him off to boarding school. Over the years, his rage snowballs beyond measure. When Balbir gets attacked by unknown assassins, the beast within him awakens for a bloodbath.

Animal is 3 hours and 21 minutes full of violence, gunshots, bloodshed and sometimes even gore. Brilliantly choreographed action pieces are backed with a rousing background score that can pump up one's adrenaline. Bullets are fired every now and then but it keeps getting better. Animal is a brave attempt at telling a deeply rooted story 'carved in blood'.

Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga is a conversation starter. His previous Hindi film, Kabir Singh, received flak for promoting toxic masculinity. Similar to the Shahid Kapoor-Kiara Advani starrer, Animal celebrates Alpha Males, but the woman of his life ain't as demure as Preeti in Kabir Singh. Geetanjali has her own graph and a voice.

The film travels between various timelines. From the son's childhood to youth, marriage, children and avenging the attack on Balbir, the transitions are smooth and layered. In the age of social media, when the attention span is limited, Sandeep leaps and makes a longer film. This decision works largely as the director almost ties every loose end, leaving a scope for an interesting surprise. Animal has a bunch of twists and turns but some of them are predictable. With the execution being on point, predictability hardly becomes a bothering factor. 

Violence and brutality without a purpose seem baseless and Sandeep understands. Every action of the son, even murder, is justified with valid backstories and flashbacks. The interval block accounts for a change in narrative. The elaborate action piece sets the benchmark high. It is a perfect blend of sass, viciousness, imagination and action. Ranbir Kapoor has excelled here and shows a side that was never explored. The interval block holds your attention with relentless slasher moves, blood and of course, guns. The smooth action moves blend so beautifully with the background score that violence begins tasting delicious. 

Despite being high on adrenaline, the pace slackens slightly at the beginning of the second half and picks up soon. Post-interval, Animal takes a different route but continues to remain brave and unabashed in its approach towards family love and protection. The excessive usage of 'papa' is hammier than loving. 

Ranbir Kapoor displays his 'vishwaroop' like never before. He expresses through his eyes and that's haunting. Owning the character like his second skin, the actor delivers a performance that's to be remembered for the longest. Since Animal travels between timelines, Ranbir molds himself as per the requirement. That too without losing the character's natural swag and angst. His emotional scenes pierce a hole in the heart and when he's firing bullets, one simply cannot help but root for him with whistles and claps. Being the ultimate showrunner, Ranbir creates his own world where there's space for kindness, tenderness and humour too. 

Rashmika Mandanna is excellent as Geetanjali. From being a shy young girl to a courageous mother, the actress becomes the character from the first frame. She's an antidote to Ranbir's hidden animal. Her confrontation sequence with Ranbir is stellar. She displays her phenomenal acting skills and blends it with her charm and grace. Rashmika depicts Geetanjali's tenderness, sternness and grit with ease. 

Anil Kapoor is charming as always. Lending his experience and strength to Animal, the actor steals the show as Balbir Singh, who might not be the best person but there's room for redemption. Bobby Deol is a surprise package. However, a little more of him wouldn't have harmed. The actor performs brilliantly and people might end up clapping and cheering for him and his work. The face-off with Ranbir is magnificent.

Tripti Dimri is perfectly cast. Though her character suffers from predictability, the actress' on-screen presence is enough to ignore the loopholes. Opening further avenues, her character is yet another important pillar. 

Animal gets the music right. The audio versions sound melodious but when paired with stunning visuals and suitable situations, they just keep getting better. The cinematography wins big time as action sequences look breathtakingly stunning. 

Animal deserves an uninterrupted theatrical viewing. Sit back, fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the unabashed slasher violence.

PeepingMoon gives Animal 4.5 Moons