RDX: Robert Dony Xavier (2023), as is evident from the name, aims to be explosive and succeeds at being one, only partially. The newest addition to Malayalam mass entertainers, this film is director Nahas Hidayath’s debut project. With the background score by Sam C.S. and the action sequences choreographed by Anbariv, the film presents a predictable revenge saga that appears to be a little too generic and simplified.
So, the story follows the gang of three brothers, Robert and Donny, and their friend Xavier, played by Shane Nigam, Antony Varghese, and Neeraj Madhav, respectively. They are freshly out of college, full of that angry young man rage, and their simple solution to life’s various troubles is – no brownie points for guessing – beating people up. These guys are well-trained in martial arts, which works in their favor and justifies their tremendous action prowess, as shown in the film. The narrative moves back and forth, and we get introduction shots of the three main characters, both individually and together. These intros land pretty well, especially the repeated introduction of the group, both back in the 90s and during the present, and the shots pack a punch every time.
However, despite the high-voltage action sequences backed by a powerful BGM, the story seems to lack that extra spice it needed to live up to its title. The revenge plot and progression seem to follow the textbook rule of revenge dramas. Despite some sensitive scenes and gory violence, connecting with the characters emotionally or rooting for them becomes a little challenging.
Though the film takes a considerable amount of time to establish the backstory of the three protagonists, it fails to make an impact. Given the current situation of the three characters, who are now shown to leave their past lives behind and live like mature and responsible men, it is natural to expect that their backstory would have something hugely impactful to result in this present. However, the backstory offers no such insight, and the reason behind the group going their separate ways appears somewhat fragile. There are almost no highly intimate, personal stakes involved in their past, and the reason depicted is rather generic and also resolved too soon. With the presence of two female leads, it feels like the backstory will get them involved to create a tense and compelling past, but no such thing happens.
However, one particular aspect that stands out in the film is that despite being an out-and-out action film, it portrays masculine rage quite finely and without appearing glaringly problematic. The three men here think of beating people up as the solution to most problems, but they don’t necessarily have anger issues or unresolved trauma that they channel through their fights. They fight for legitimate causes and also out of respect for their lessons in martial arts. Robert, Davy, and Xavier are not women-hating misogynists who find comfort in fights. They are rather lover boys and doting sons who dream of leading a simple life with their family and friends. This balanced portrayal of the angry young men adds to the film’s appeal.
The villains, however, could have been presented in a more menacing way. Though Vishnu Agasthya does a great job as Paulson, somewhere, the narrative seems to fail to justify his rage. 90s villain Babu Antony could have also been used better here. The villain gang appears to be engaged in violence for the sake of it, and though that trope might work for certain films, it doesn’t work that well here. As a result, we get an unhinged band of goons who belong to a specific colony (and here comes the problematic portrayal of the colony) and are always ready to get into vicious fights without any apparent and glaring reasons.
Despite being a little too long and yet not entirely sufficient, RDX works reasonably well because of its music and fiery action sequences. The lead actors here have done a great job, and none of their punches miss a beat. As for the BGM, the song Neela Nilave deserves a special mention. Its fusion of classical and contemporary music, coupled with the brilliant choreography, elevates the mood of the film in many folds. Overall, with pulsating action and acting, RDX is a good one-time watch to get that adrenaline kicking!