Mark Antony

This Vishal-starrer, excluding S J Suryah’s charming presence, ends up being an unnecessary noisy and stupid movie that neither strikes a serious nerve nor a wacky one; it also revives the destructive cliché of antagonising LGBT characters.


In the realm of film critiques, encountering a well-crafted review such as this one remains far more enticing than embarking on the cinematic journey offered by Adhik Ravichandran’s latest creation, “Mark Antony.” This movie, billed as a time-travel gangster drama, falls flat in both its pursuit of seriousness and its attempt to infuse quirkiness into the storyline.

Adhik’s narrative centers on a simple yet intriguing premise: What if a time-travel device became entangled in a brutal 70s gang war? Initially, the concept holds promise. The year is 1975, and Antony (played by Vishal) and Jackie Pandian (portrayed by SJ Suryah) jointly dominate a significant part of Chennai’s underworld. Tragedy strikes when their arch-nemesis, Ekambaram (Sunil), murders Antony in a club one fateful evening. Fast forward to 1995, and we find Jackie reigning as a kingpin, showing more affection towards Antony’s son, Mark (again played by Vishal), than his own offspring, Madhan (once more portrayed by Suryah). The narrative takes a twist when Mark stumbles upon a Time Travel Phone invented by the late scientist Chiranjeevi (Selvaraghavan), which enables him to contact his deceased parents.

Chiranjeevi’s time-travel device is a fascinating piece of sci-tech that Adhik employs capriciously, reducing it to a mere plaything for adult characters. There are some basic time-travel rules governing the device: calls can only be made to the past, a user cannot contact the same date twice, first-time users levitate in the air, lightning can disrupt the process, and only the user is aware of the changes in the present following a call. However, these rules are largely disregarded by both the characters and the filmmaker himself.

It’s curious how Tamil cinema’s hero characters consistently fail to grasp even the most fundamental time-travel principles. Just weeks after witnessing GV Prakash’s exasperating portrayal in “Adiyae,” we now have Vishal’s Mark, a character who remains oblivious to time-travel’s intricacies and lacks any substantial character development.

One might expect Mark to grapple with the profound changes brought about by time-travel, but instead, he indulges in frivolous activities, including dancing with his ex-girlfriend, Ramya (Ritu Varma), who serves as an unnecessary damsel-in-distress with minimal relevance to the plot. Most characters in the film exhibit one-dimensional, often loud, personas—Antony growls and speaks in a deep voice, Jackie is a boisterous womanizer, Mark reacts with shrill squeals and shudders, and Madhan occupies a middle ground between them all.

“Mark Antony” had the potential to be a zany entertainer capable of diverting our attention from logic loopholes. Unfortunately, apart from Suryah’s delightful presence and a handful of entertaining moments, the film falls short of delivering genuine entertainment. The screenplay teases us with the promise of surprises, genre-defying twists, or redemption for its shortcomings, but these promises remain unfulfilled. Matters take a troubling turn when Vishnu Priya Gandhi, bearing a resemblance to the late Silk Smitha, is introduced with graphic alterations for cheap laughs. She is persistently depicted with a seductive tone, and even Vishal’s seemingly empathetic dialogue about Silk’s struggles can’t mask the irony in subsequent scenes.

Adhik Ravichandran has often courted controversy in his filmmaking, known for insensitivity in his work, and “Mark Antony” continues this trend. While one might not anticipate a heartless 70s gangster like Jackie to show empathy towards LGBTQ+ individuals, the film’s queerphobic dialogue remains problematic. Furthermore, featuring transwomen in an item song perpetuates their fetishization and mockery, reviving harmful stereotypes. The film also perpetuates the toxic trope of antagonizing queer characters, as transwomen attempt to harm a lead character and are subjected to brutal violence, while an effeminate gay character (Y. G. Mahendran) is portrayed negatively.

The sole redeeming qualities of “Mark Antony” lie in its vibrant and visually striking color palette, along with the well-designed characters. Vishal and Suryah shine in certain scenes, evidently relishing their roles as older characters. However, if given the chance to utilize the Time Travel Phone, one would be tempted to call Adhik after he completed his initial draft, the lead actors before they signed on to the project, or even oneself before sitting down to watch the film.

At the moment, Mark Antony is playing in theatres.

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