WARNING: Spoilers for RRR
RRR (also known as Rise, Roar, Revolt) is one of the most insane, unique, and all-out entertaining blockbusters I have ever seen. This action epic from India (which is available to watch on Netflix) is highly stylistic, melodramatic, and over-the-top in all the right ways. It’s a film that could never exist in the American studio system, and shows as brightly and as loudly as possible why we need unique films from foreign filmmakers.
Hollywood, your time is at an end. Tollywood is coming for you.
The film stars N. T. Rama Rao Jr. as Komaram Bheem and Ram Charan as Alluri Sitarama Raju. Each were real men and vital revolutionary figures in India's history. However, co-writer and director S. S. Rajamouli has created a fictional "what if?" type story that depicts if the two figures had met, and formed a friendship. It is an outrageous story that truly capitalizes on the idea of what a blockbuster can be.
Set in India during the 1920's, RRR's story starts with the kidnapping of a child, Malli, by the current British Governor Scott Buxton (played with relish by Ray Stevenson). Some time later, we find out that Malli's brother (Bheem) has set off to rescue her. When Scott gets wind of this, he issues a bounty on the head of the man after him, or the rank of Special Officer to the man who catches him if he is returned alive. That man is Raju, who has his own secretive and twisting storyline that collides with Bheem in tragic and epic ways. But once the two men work together to rescue a boy from a train accident, they strike up an unlikely friendship that may or may not end in tragedy, but definitely ends in captivating and bat-shit-crazy action set pieces.
RRR wows with stunning choreography (both action and dance) as is careens from one bonkers action set piece to the next; and all without forgetting to tell a strong, sincere, and very human story.
The action itself is frenetic, dynamic, and defies the laws of gravity. They reminded me of Yuen Woo-ping's incredibly stylized action choreography in The Matrix , Kill Bill, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And though nearly every animal in the film is a CGI creation, they still look great and work well in their environment... maybe even more-so than some of our recent American blockbusters.
Music is integral, and the songs (both the film score and those sung out loud) connect to every emotion you have. The main dance sequence is something so jaw-dropping, it would make Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire jealous. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan are fantastic leads who manage to craft one of the strongest bromances in years. Even Ray Stevenson gets to chew scenery as the vile British Governor Scott.
A few bad digital shots and a couple moments of bad acting from some of the extras cannot and will not stop this infectiously entertaining blockbuster.
And on a budget of $72 million, it’s absolutely UNBELIEVABLE what they were able to accomplish from a visual standpoint.
The $72 million price tag marks RRR as India’s most expensive film ever made. For comparison, the first Expendables film had a budget of $80 million, while Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End had a staggering $300 million (which was the most expensive film of all time the year of its release, 2007). To its credit, RRR truly uses its budget to maximum effect; maybe Hollywood should take a note on money management.
RRR is a shot of insane movie heroin. If you have been feeling like recently Hollywood has been delivering the same one-note action "spectacles", then THIS is the cure! It is an utterly unique film experience that fully capitalizes on what cinema can offer. A movie so weird and so wonderful, I am in awe of its very existence. No wonder RRR has made several Top 10 of 2022 lists; and I have no doubt it will likely make mine as well.