The trailer of "Saaho" promised high-octane action, special effects and stylised sequences. Like a stock opening sequence that starts with an extreme close-up and zooms out to reveal a different picture, "Saaho" is a whole other movie than the trailer lets on.
The plot, which moves between Mumbai and the fictional city of Waaji, concerns an undercover agent named Ashok (Prabhas) and a crime syndicate run by Roy (Jackie Shroff).
Ashok is a top cop, but his demeanour suggests otherwise. He is languid and awkward and would rather make moves on his colleague Amritha (Shraddha Kapoor) than fight crime. She feebly resists his rather demeaning attempts to woo her, but succumbs quickly - giving the film a chance to cut to exotic locations where the two can dance to mediocre music.
At 179 minutes, "Saaho" drags on and on. Director and writer Sujeeth throws in countless plot twists, intent on distracting viewers with action, blood, gore and romance over substance. At one point, when a character says, "I've concocted so many false stories, you think I can't come up with one more" - it is as if he is talking about the script.
Sujeeth borrows scenes and tonality from several Hollywood films, including "Mission Impossible" and "Mad Max", but neither he nor his leading man match their quality.
Prabhas, fresh off the success of the "Baahubali" franchise, fails to re-create his brooding action hero persona. Shraddha Kapoor's character doesn't have much to do except be rescued by a manly-man, with whom she must occasionally dance. The rest of the cast, including Chunky Pandey and Mahesh Manjrekar, seem to be wondering what on earth is going on. So will viewers.