This is a well-directed and choreographed action film that has a dumb plot in a not super awesome narrative trope tradition.
Apparently the plot is basically Man on Fire, a film I have never seen, but with a few tweaks. But it’s actually based on a graphic novel, so I guess the graphic novel stole from Man on Fire. (There are certainly other films about one very violent man protecting a child in a strange city, but Man on Fire is the earliest one I am aware of off the top of my head.) The tweaks don’t really help the idea, as it’s really kind of hard to understand what Rake’s endgame is, even while they are hitting you over the head with his motivation.
The film features a number of very well-directed and choreographed action set pieces in various parts of Dhaka (and Indian and Thailand posing as Dhaka). There are some shaky camera extended takes or apparent extended takes and some changes in perspective, but somehow the film manages to keep it from being confusing. The fight scenes are well done and feature some pretty creative impacts, some of which could easily be in a Friday the 13th film or something. (This obviously lightens the mood a little bit.)
But that doesn’t really help alleviate the problems with the plot. As many have noted, there is a huge white saviour problem with this film, where Rake is apparently the only person in a brown city that can help this brown kid. Basically everyone else in the city is either a villain or an innocent bystander. (Why does the kid choose Rake over Saju?)
As with any of these movies where an entire city (or building) tries to kill one man (or two people), no time is spent explaining why most of the people would possibly risk their lives to do this. We get the motivations of this one kid, but that’s it. As Jenn said, Dhaka has the largest SWAT team in the world, and it’s not clear why all of these police are so willing to die for this drug lord. (We get he bribed their boss, but why the hell wouldn’t you just go home if you heard what was going on?) Now, this is a problem with every single one of these types of films, so I guess I can hardly hold it against this movie.
The similar trope of nearly everyone tying to save one child also is never explained. It’s never explained in any of these movies, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a dumb trope.
But the whole Rake/Saju thing is bizarre. Sure, Saju is trying to get out of it, but it’s hard to understand what Rake thinks is going to happen to this child if he gets him out of Dhaka given that he doesn’t seem as interested (or as capable?) of killing Saju as he is everyone else. Isn’t Saju just going to be there provided he too can get out of the city? And if he has Saju’s number, and knows he didn’t kill him, why doesn’t he make the plan sooner? What changed? (Does that other betrayal somehow necessitate the plan?)
It’s a shame the plot isn’t less cliched as the film is pretty competently made and I fully enjoyed myself during that first set piece involving the SWAT team.