VV is a classic cop-hunts-serial killer tale - nothing more, nothing less. Thankfully, there are none of the usual Kamal-touches in the movie - no smooches, no hints at child abuse, no high-pitched wails of misery, no atheist expositions and what's best, no high-funda makeup. Instead, we have a rather fleshy-looking Kamal - receding hairline and paunch in tow - play his age (well, almost!), and that certainly was the best aspect about the movie for me. Discarding the usual conventions of how a police officer in the movies has to look like, the hero looks like how any middle-aged policeman would look. There's nothing much in the role for an actor of Kamal's stature, and he doesn't disappoint in what he's been given either (would have been a challenge for somebody like Surya or Vikram, though).
The serial killer - played by Daniel Balaji, who was there in Gautam's earlier venture 'Kakka Kakka' was well - hams too much. Though he is menacing alright, he fails to convey the intelligence/cunningness the character seems to possess intuitively. As a foil to Kamal's character, he fails miserably. Thankfully, most of the time the taut screenplay hides his inadequacies. Jyothika is good in her role - Gautham certainly writes interesting characters for her.
The pluses? Well, it is a decent thriller, and has Kamal playing his age. It has a mature romance (which does not mean Bachchan and Hema Malini grooving to 'Chali Chali' for a change!), something that is so rare in Indian cinema. The little touches Kamal and Prakash Raj add to their characters when they meet are wonderful (it is so true that great actors enhance each others' performances). And of course, the technical aspects are superb.
Of course, VV was so amateurish in a lot of ways. First of all, it has the same old cop's-wife-killed-by-goons flashback. When will we stop doing this in our movies? If you have to show it, at least do it decently, like they did in 'Ab Tak Chappan'. The whole flashback portion was the worst aspect of VV. And pray, why did they add that miserable special-effects scene - the one showing Kamal zooming on a bike? The whole 'Raghavan instinct' thing was embarassingly and uncharacteristically voluble. And that bit about Jyothika having a kid - completely irrelevant! To top it all, the movie (especially the climax) had a huge 'Kakka Kakka' hangover.
Like most of Kamal's non-comedic movies, this one too is watchable fare.
At the outset: 'Keerthi Chakra' ('Aran' in Tamil) is poorly, poorly directed. In fact, were it not for the sheer presence of Mohan Lal in this amateurish attempt, it could pass for one of those Vijaykanth flicks (substituting Pakistani terrorists with Al-Qaeda would be about the only change required). Mohan Lal must have been sozzled to have accepted this movie.
First of all, there's not much of a story here. Its the usual tale about a bunch of patriotic armymen trying to thwart terrorists from harming the country (male-bonding goes with the territory). Lal leads the pack. Lal, like Kamal in VV, is grim most of the time. Yeah, you guessed right: his wife too was killed by Al-Qaeda. Lal's hawaldar is upcoming Tamil actor Jeeva (who turns in a competent performance). The terrorists are a bunch of perpetually scowling, screaming and ranting Muslims who keep saying 'jihad' that and 'jihad' this. And then there's the 'Indian Muslims are Indian first' moral, shoved into our faces first by a vile rape scene, and then by the lunatic sole surviver screaming curses at the dead bodies of the terrorists.
Lal and Jeeva are about the only positives in this farce. Though Lal is a bit too - (hmm..how shall we put this?) rotund - to essay the role of a commando, he makes no mistakes in the histronics department. Once again, its not much of a role, but Lal stands up and delivers. In fact, he ends up saving the movie from becoming an outright disgrace. Jeeva acquits himself honorably in his scenes with Lal, and that's a fine compliement by itself. The commando scenes are well-shot as well.
The negatives? You must be kidding me. Clueless direction, unimpressive music, listless camera work, terrible acting, a gruesome rape scene, inane & hackneyed dialogue - where do you want me to start? You'd be better off watching a Vijaykanth flick - at least, you can laugh!