Photograph: Lionsgate
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3 out of 5 stars

All aboard for an eye-wateringly violent, train-set Hindi action movie

Phil de Semlyen

Time Out says

Action filmmaker Chad Stahelski is already working on an English-language remake of this Hindi trainsploitation flick – and it’s easy to see the appeal for the Hollywood martial arts auteur. There are moments when Kill’s demented levels of violence makes his own John Wick movies look positively tame. It is, in every sense, loco. 

Maybe to keep the Bollywood crowd on board, or just to lull his audience into a comforting familiarity, director Nikhil Bhat starts things gently with a soapy romance. Handsome army commando Amrit (Lakshya) hops aboard a night train to New Delhi to whisk his beautiful fiancée Tulika (Tanya Maniktala) away from the arranged marriage sorted for her by her scarily well-connected dad. ‘Our love is much more powerful than her dad,’ the earnest Amrit tells his best army pal, who joins him for the ride.

That ChatGPT dialogue draws a few accidental laughs that quickly fade away when Kill unleashes its villains: a big posse of opportunistic bandits, or dacoits – the real-life gangs who once terrorised the country’s railways. When they clock that Tulika’s industrialist father is on the train, the stakes – and the violence – ramp up.

The bandits are a proper Dad’s Army of extended family members with wildly varying fighting abilities, but carrying a paunch or school books is no protection from Kill’s truly shocking violence. No one is safe from the flying hatchets, kukri knives, toilet bowls, fire extinguishers and assorted improvised weapons. In the case of a sole handmade pistol; not even the user.  

It gets a little too pleased with its own ultraviolence

The charismatic Lakshya, a TV actor making his movie debut, doesn’t have much acting to do beyond making cheesy faces at his girlfriend and grimacing when he’s knifed or slashed for the umpteenth time. But, like his director, he handles the action scenes with muscular confidence.

Credit to Bhat, too, for departing with the tried-and-tested action movie template to deliver an unexpected, nihilistic mid-movie twist. The problem is the sense of déjà vu that creeps in thereafter. Kill keeps bumping into its own action beats in the train corridor, and reviving boss-level villains you’d just as rather see kicked out the door. The pool of congealed bandit brains the camera keeps returning to become an icky motif for a film a little too pleased with its own ultraviolence.

Still, genre fans will admire the ceaseless mayhem of this rare Indian entry to the carnage canon. It’s not The Raid, or even this year’s Monkey Man, but it’s got some slick moves of its own. 

In cinemas worldwide Jul 5.

Cast and crew

  • Director:Nikhil Nagesh Bhat
  • Screenwriter:Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, Ayesha Syed
  • Cast:
    • Lakshya
    • Abhishek Chauhan
    • Ashish Vidyarthi
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