Imagine getting access to a phone that will let you talk to anyone from your past and change the course of your life. Exciting, right? This is what is the core premise of Adhik Ravichandran’s Mark Antony. However, no matter how interesting the premise sounds, the film ends up being a mess with everything, starting from the background music to the unnecessary songs to those slo-mo action sequences being extremely over the top for no real reason. The only saving grace of the film is S. J. Suryah, who legitimately owns every single frame he is in. But how can a single man save a film that fails in almost all the other aspects? The simple answer is he can’t.
Mark Antony is a gangster drama with a time-travel punch thrown in the mix. We get the story of two gangsters and their sons from the 70s and 90s, respectively. In the 70s, we see Antony and Jackie Pandian, played by Vishal and S.J. Suryah, respectively, being best friends and gangsters who rule over a significant part of Chennai. Things go smoothly until one day, a rival gangster named Ekambaram, played by Sunil kills Antony in a club. Cut to the 90s, we see Antony’s son Mark being taken care of by Jackie, who is the sole kingpin now. For some reason, Jackie prefers and loves Mark more than his own son Madhan, and the reason gets clear once Mark gets his hands on this telephone that can make calls to the past.
So, we have two Vishals and two S.J. Suryahs with their different backstories. The film keeps going back to the 70s and coming back to the 90s with relentless fervor, and if you stop paying attention for a few minutes, you will be confused about the happenings on screen. The director has tried to incorporate a lot of nostalgic elements like the music from back in those days, references to Kamal Hassan films, and the director Shankar. But, despite all these efforts, the writing appears really lazy, and there’s only so much that these references can make up for.
Besides its careless writing and even more careless execution, the film has certain problematic aspects that stand out really badly. The director, Adhik Ravichandran, is already known for making problematic films, and this one does not go in a different way either. Here, the female lead, Ramya, played by Ritu Verma, has been given so little to do that it would not have really mattered if her character was simply not there. She’s shown to have this pattern of being attracted to poor and hardworking guys, no matter who they really are.
This trope works in the first timeline where she’s with Mark, the mechanic son of Antony. You can see why she will be in love with a guy like Mark. But, as the film progresses and we flip through a few timelines, we realize Ramya has a problematic idea about love, or she probably does not have any idea regarding what love is and what she wants. After Mark makes the first-time traveling call and things are changed, we see Madhan is now the mechanic with whom Ramya is in love simply because he’s a poor guy.
But this does not work here because it becomes apparent that Madhan always had different plans and never really wanted to be this mechanic, very unlike Mark in the first timeline. In this timeline, Mark is apparently a ruthless gangster and behaves the same way till he wakes up after a night of that call. However, even if this explains Ramya’s not being in love with Mark in this timeline, it does not explain her being in love with Madhan either because he’s neither honest nor happy in his life as a mechanic and is constantly plotting against Mark. Ramya and Madhan’s story makes no sense, and once you have traveled through a few timelines, Ramya’s character ends up being totally unnecessary.
Then comes Vishnu Priya Gandhi as Silk Smitha. With some CGI, she has been made to look eerily similar to Silk. Here, the director made Antony call her by her real name, Vijayalakshmi, and show her the respect she deserves only to establish how good a guy Mark is. As the scene proceeds, we see Silk’s character talking in an unnecessarily seductive voice, trying to get close to Mark. Jackie Pandhian here is all ready to have some ‘fun’ with Silk, and the sexual innuendos here fly off the screen just like those action sequences that take place in that bus. Silk’s portrayal here is quite distasteful and unnecessary. There’s also the queer character of Gowri, played by Y.G. Mahendran. The brother of Jackie’s wife, he’s referred to as ‘Uncle Aunty’ by Madhan and is ridiculed throughout the film.
Now, keeping all this aside, if we come to the time-traveling part of the film, that also doesn’t stand very well. The idea might not be anything new, but it could have been executed way better. The telephone here has certain rules, but those are only for show because Mark does not take those very seriously, nor does the screenplay. People here are using it as per their whims, making this ground-breaking discovery an adult plaything.
The characters swim through timelines without any visible character development or growth. They don’t have that time, to be honest, as they are busy making phone calls every single day after the other. The timelines shift, but the characters remain the same. They neither process nor understand the gravity of this innovation and what it can do. They treat it as a plaything to achieve goals that are either strictly materialistic or emotional in nature.
The only good thing about the film is perhaps the actors. Everyone has done their jobs well, no matter what the role. S. J. Suryah definitely rules the screen, but others also do their part. Selvaraghavan, as the dedicated and somewhat eccentric scientist Chiranjeevi, who is behind the discovery of the phone, fits well into the role. Vishal, as Antony, seems to have a lot of fun, and when he appears again toward the end of the film with a bald head and a cigar in his hand, he’s really a different trip to watch. Despite the bad songs, the BGM by G. V. Prakash Kumar works reasonably well.
Overall, you can give Mark Antony a chance if you like high-voltage action with a dash of nostalgia, swag, and some mindless time-traveling, but there is no guarantee that you will not regret that later.