Night Drive (2022) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen

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‘Night Drive’ sticks to a routine format and follows a wan path that leads nowhere. With a wobbly screenplay that lacks suspense and surprise, this is a Roshan Mathew film that I’m in a hurry to forget.

In the final scenes of Vysakh’s ‘Night Drive’, set in some forsaken warehouse, Riya (Anna Ben) sits sipping a steaming cup of coffee, as she gleefully watches her saviour sweetheart Georgy (Roshan Mathew) bash up the bad guys black and blue. The girl had been abducted for ransom just a few minutes back, and if you are left wondering if they have started serving hot coffee in designer mugs to captives at thug dens, you will certainly be not blamed.

Riya is a firebrand TV journalist with a leading channel, who has just managed to drive a minister (Siddique) to the brink of resignation, through her expose on his involvement in a gold smuggling case. Her boyfriend Georgy is an Uber taxi driver who is instantly likeable with his charming ways. Its Christmas eve and Riya’s birthday to boot, and the couple decide to go on an ill-fated night drive.

For the first twenty minutes of the film at least, almost every scene set in different locations in the script, has a string of blue lights stretched across, leaving a bokeh of blue shimmers in the background. Be it the bakery or the minister’s house, the wayside teashop or the hospital – the blue sparkle makes almost every scene appear visually alike, leaving you in tremendous doubt if it’s a motif that the film maker has in mind.

Perhaps it’s an overdose of the blue tint that gets to you, but ‘Night Drive’ does take quite awhile to set itself in momentum. An argument with the local Circle Inspector (Indrajith) leads to Riya rubbing him the wrong way, and when after a heated argument she rams the car onto a man scurrying across with a sack of gold, its payback time for the irked police officer.

Despite this intriguing premise, ‘Night Drive’ doesn’t really kick into gear, and strikes you as a watered down version of some better thrillers that had driven by this road before. It’s a messily cobbled together story that lacks the flourish and the shrewdness, and is neither much of a mystery nor a particularly thrilling tale for that matter.

We have at least a couple of inconsequential characters played by actors of repute – like Renji Panicker playing Riya’s drunkard dad or Muthumani awkwardly essaying the corrupt Commissioner of Police. While these characters are just pure evidences of a deficiency in depth, there are plenty of other characters as well that grab much screen time and space but are barely etched out in precise terms.

‘Night Drive’ doubles my disappointment, especially since its lead actor Roshan Mathew is one who has wowed us time and again with his incredible talent. Ditto for the female lead, Anna Ben. What is disheartening is that this is perhaps not the film that should have brought these dynamic performers together, since there is hardly anything here for them to munch on! Or even for seasoned actors as Indrajith or Siddique, who are offered zilch opportunities to venture out of stereotypical roles.

The film is decently captured on camera by Shaji Kumar, who goes out of his way to flood his night frames with beam lights and flashes galore. Ranjin Raj’s background score is intrusive and strikes quite a few dissenting notes on account of its (in)appropriateness. Sunil S Pillai’s editing is crisp, but even at a running time that clocks just about a couple of hours, there are instances when the film appears a bit too stretched out.

There is some awkward action that comes right at the end, which is mostly ruined by the coffee sipping heroine proudly gawking at her boyfriend’s fancy moves. ‘Night Drive’ sticks to a routine format and follows a wan path that leads nowhere. With a wobbly screenplay that lacks suspense and surprise, this is a Roshan Mathew film that I’m in a hurry to forget.

Verdict: Thriller Sans Thrills