I have lived in Bombay for more than 25 years of my life. I have witnessed more than dozen terrorist attacks on my hometown, with two of the attacks, the 93 Bombay Blasts and 26/11 attacks being the worst terrorist attacks ever seen in mankind’s history in my opinion. Unfortunately, there have not been many films on these attacks, or on the after effects of the attack. I still remember 26/11 vividly, the reason being I was supposed to go to Cafe Leopold on the same day but I was not keen to travel to South Bombay. Not a day goes by thinking, what if I was there on that day at that place. For those who grew up in Bombay, it was like seeing a part of our identity being destroyed.
Phantom is a fictionalised account of how Indian RA&W recruits one man to avenge the masterminds of 26/11 attacks.
The first 4 minutes of Phantom is an adrenaline rush, with the story moving backwards and forwards. Indian RA&W without the approval of government recruits Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan) a disgraced Ex- Indian army officer who is assigned the mission to murder masterminds of 26/11.
His mission takes him first to the UK, where he is helped by Nawaz (Katrina Kaif). The film loses a bit of its steam once Daniyal is in Syria, only to pick up again in the last 40 minutes of the film. Given the subject line, this should have been a taut thriller, Kabir succeeds in first 40 minutes with his non- linear approach, mid-way the director seems to realise non-linear approach may alienate the audience.
What makes a good thriller or a good commercial hero, is a bigger villain. Here the villains are real, but it seems like they are dumb. There is not a single moment wherein we feel that Daniyal might be trapped, it is like Daniyal is Indian Rambo. And if that was the case, Kabir should have gone with a bigger actor/star.
Earlier this year, Bollywood gave us a riveting thriller- Baby, wherein the Nepal chase sequence gave us a buck for our money. Sadly such moments are very few in Phantom. In Phantom, everything happens at the convenience of Daniyal.
The film has been banned in Pakistan, the list of things which Pakistan has banned is growing day by day right from Blackberry, to YouTube, and Pork. The film is not Anti-Pakistan, in fact, the film shows Pakistan as a nation is a victim of Terrorists and how people are easily lured into terrorist camps.
The dialogues in the film are downright amateurish, with Daniyal asking details of what Nawaz does and earns, anyone with an iota of intelligence would know, the greatest asset of RA&W agent or for that, any agent is to speak less.
Surprisingly even after the death of Sajid Mir in London, ISI does not investigate or activate its agents to know more. Even funnier thing is ISI agents killing an American citizen in America, which would be political hara-kiri for Pakistanis in reality.
Overall the film could have been a much tighter and better film with the improved screenplay and better actors. Unfortunately as of now Phantom is an average film, which had the potential to be a great B film.
While in real life we know Indians would not get Insaaf (Justice) anytime soon, at least Bollywood has given poetic justice for the time being in the form of Phantom. The most chilling thing in Phantom is the end credits when it mention’s none of the masterminds have been punished till now.
In the same revenge fantasy genre, I would recommend you to watch Baby or D-Day rather Phantom.