A mysterious man plants time bombs in four strategically public
locations throughout the city of Colombo. The bombs are placed in a
bus, a shopping mall, a police station and a train; ideal spots for
optimal loss of human lives. His only demand is the release of four
domestic terrorists being held by the government. The consequence of
noncompliance is detonation with extreme prejudice.
This film is Sri Lankan filmmaker Chandran Rutnam's version of the Indian film A Wednesday (2008) written and directed Neeraj Pandey and starring Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah. I haven't seen the Indian original, but this adaptation is an amalgamation of previously used plot devices. In Speed (1994) a maniac places bombs in an elevator, a bus and a subway train and threatens to detonate if demands aren't met. In Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), the villain moves mountains to free four imprisoned criminals. So needless to say 'plot originality' is not this film's strong suit. Unlike the two examples mentioned earlier, A Common Man is definitely not an action film; calling it a thriller would be hyperbole as well. The story moves briskly during the first act, comes to a lethargic halt in the second act and fizzles out like a flat soda in the third. Rutnam's English script is packed with unnatural dialogue for example "there's a huge pandemonium at the Polgoda Police Station, the Bomb Disposal Squad and police dogs are all over the place." The anti-terrorism message is obvious as well as the "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore" discourse. But the weak execution and shameful blunders in direction ruins what could have been a respectable English language export. These are a few highlights of the mistakes; the bomb disposal officer having to actually tell other officers to get away from the door while they deactivate the bomb, the bomb squad removing explosives from the three locations without actually evacuating the civilians first, a detective interrogating an informant with his shirt off and his sunglasses on, Officer Mohideen actually answering his wife's call when transporting the four most dangerous terrorists in the country and last but not least the best hacker in the country being unable to locate a caller even after two minutes and sixteen seconds. These and other mistakes are unbelievably amateurish and just a bit of common sense could have prevented the absurdity.
This film's most unforgivable error is its casting. Ben Kingsley plays Vincent Dias/ The Man with a British cockney accent, Ben Cross plays Morris Da Silva with posh English pronunciation, Patrick Rutnam plays Mohideen with an American twang, Frederick-James Koch plays Ranjan Jayaweera with an American surfer-dude drawl and Numaya Siriwardana plays Dilky Thenuwara with a 'Singlish' accent . If Kingsley could have played Gandhi better than any Indian could have, why is it so difficult for him to even pronounce Sinhala names? Undoubtedly Kingsley and Cross are brilliant actors, but you're only as good as the actors and director you work with. The dreadful supporting cast drags the two veteran actors down into a black hole of bad acting. Patrick Rutnam, Koch, Siriwardana, Jerome De Silva, Mohammed Adamaly and Dushyanth Weeraman take untalented and awkward acting to Mount Everest levels. Siriwardana and Weeraman are especially ridiculous and incompetent. The entire casting is a failure of epic proportions.
Why Ben Kingsley and Ben Cross agreed to work on a film with such an appalling script is baffling. How A Common Man won Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture at the Madrid International Film Festival is mind-boggling. As a Sri Lankan film fan I am torturously embarrassed when I think that this film may be the first glimpse at Sri Lankan cinema for many foreigners. Making a film based on another film is just plain lazy, even the title 'A Common Man' has been copied from the original Indian film. Penning a script without doing research into the technical jargon and writing dialogue similar to a high school play is blasphemous. Hiring two good actors for two bad roles and six bad actors for six horrid roles is irrational. Add to this the forgettable cinematography, the poor man's chase scene, the not-so-special special effect and the pointlessly overdramatic score (even when Kingsley is drinking tea) and you've got yourself an atrocious film despite what a panel of film festival judges thought. The Annual Razzie Awards are handed out to the year's worst movies and if this film were nominated it would incontestably snag the Worst Screen Ensemble, Worst Director and Worst Picture awards. This film made me cringe from start to finish and if A Common Man is what Sri Lanka has to offer to audiences and film festivals abroad, then embarrassment on a national level is imminent.
A Common Man
Action / Thriller
A Common Man
Action / Thriller
A terrorist plants several bombs throughout the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka and threatens to detonate them unless prisoners are released.
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April 26, 2013 at 05:12 AM