[Photo Source: Twitter/RockyHandsome]

JA Entertainment and Azure Productions’ movie “Rocky Handsome,” which released on Friday, March 25, is two hours worth of action scenes that leave you impressed and exhilarated. A remake of Korean film, “The Man from Nowhere,” the Indian version relies a whole lot on the stunts, hand-to-hand combats, and knife fights, which is the kind action no Indian movie has ever seen before. The other thing is film relies on?  Lead actor John Abraham. He is the only one who delivers a performance worthy of appreciation.

He plays Kabir Ahlawat, a lonely, quiet man who runs a pawn shop from his home. His neighbor, Anna (Nathalia Kaur) is a bar dancer and a bad influence on her seven-year-old daughter Naomi (Diya Chalwad), so the kid, who is also a rookie thief, begins hanging out with Ahlawat and they become odd friends, and since she doesn’t know his name, she aptly calls him Handsome. He avoids her as much as he can but at the same time cares for her deeply. So when she and her mother get kidnapped by two gangsters because of Anna’s drug deal gone wrong, Kevin and Luke Ferriera (director Nishikant Kamat and Teddy Maurya), he makes it his mission to save them.

A police team, headed by Dilip Sangodkar (Sharad Kelkar), is also after the Ferriera brothers because they’re not only involved in drugs but also organ trafficking, child prostitution and other heinous crimes. When Ahlawat gets involved, they try to figure out who he is and how he is connected to the brothers. Turns out, his files are locked by intelligence agencies, because he’s a trained assassin for the government. And his code name you ask? Rocky, of course. Hence, the title of the movie, the two names Ahlawat is most recognized by.

The movie does a good job of making you care about the two characters, Ahlawat and Naomi, because of their dangerous circumstances. Abraham doesn’t have too many dialogues but does more with his actions and facial expressions, especially in two scenes – when his backstory with his dead wife Rukshida (Shruti Hassan) is revealed and when he has to perform a sort of surgery on himself.

A good story, which “Rocky Handsome” definitely has, would be enough to save a film normally. However, the acting by most of its cast barring Abraham, and maybe Chalwad and Kelkar, is cringe-worthy and over-the-top. Director Nishikant Kamat makes his acting debut as the main villain and in a few scenes even manages to feel like one, but most of the time, he seems to be doing it out of force. His brother, on the other hand, played by Maurya makes an even harder attempt to be the psychotic one, but ends up being annoying instead. The direction in some cases, especially with split screens, is a job well done. Although, since Kamat was also acting this time, there is a definite lack of substance in direction, something we know he is really great at (looking at you, “Force,” “Mumbai Meri Jaan,” “Drishyam.”)

The one thing that elevates this movie is the action. Abraham, who trained in Thailand, clearly brings his best moves to the game. The fight scene using knives in the climax is thrilling and very fresh. The music, except the forced bar dance number “Titliyaan,” is actually really great too, especially the nostalgia-inducing “Rock tha Party,” and the romantic “Rehnuma.” The sweet chemistry between Handsome and Naomi is heart-warming to watch.

In the end though, you leave the film with mixed feelings, because while there is action and there is emotion, as Abraham promised there would be, “Rocky Handsome” leaves you with a lingering feeling of wonder because the movie has so much scope and could have reached full potential with suitable actors and less corny dialogues.