White Guy Watches Bollywood

A random white guy engages with contemporary Indian cinema... one movie at a time


Tamil Movie Review: Captain Miller burns down the British Raj with invigorating genre movie pastiche

Dhanush stars in Arun Matheswaran's "Captain Miller," here reviewed by White Guy Watches Bollywood.

A down-and-dirty genre picture with a hearty helping of historical resonance, Captain Miller reminds us what “hard-boiled” really means in the context of action filmmaking. For those who thought last year’s Sisu was just a little too tame and cutesy in its creative interpretation of 20th Century history: have I got a movie for you. Unrelenting to the point of madness, this is as pulpy and savage as I’ve ever seen a cinematic glorification of Indian resistance against the British Raj. It makes RRR look like a superhero dress-up party.

After a brief prologue, the film opens like an Indian take on the Western genre, complete with Wanted posters for its titular outlaw, Eesa AKA Captain Miller (played by Dhanush). Miller and his gang actively take on the British battalions responsible for ongoing atrocities in the local village and surrounding areas. In the beginning, with Miller largely shrouded in mystery, this feels like simple vigilante justice operating as a form of political resistance.

But as in most strong genre movies, there’s more lore to be explored than first meets the eye. Co-writer/director Arun Matheswaran delves into the extended backstory of Eesa with real finesse; the film progressively builds upon its propulsive energy, without the amount of time spent in “flashback” mode coming across as a chore. We learn that Eesa was originally assigned the name of “Miller” when he signed up for the British army, a short-lived enlistment that ended abruptly when he and his fellow Indian soldiers were painstakingly forced to massacre their countrymen protesting the British rule. From that day on, “Miller” charted a new course.

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