Special 26 is a cracker of a film. Con movies are difficult to make, especially when we have seen almost every kind of con on celluloid already. Ocean's Eleven (2001), The Sting (1973), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Nine Queens (2002) you name it. For the first hour or so I was enjoying it but not quite loving it. It had two thrilling sequences but the rest of it didn't soar, not to mention the wafer-thin characterization. During the interval, I wished the film would get better. I wanted to know these people more. I wanted to get wowed. Probably even wanted to get fooled. (A good con movie is always one step ahead of us). How many films these days actually do get better? How many films have a strong third act? Special 26 delivers exactly what I wished for.
Neeraj Pandey made a strong debut with A Wednesday (2008). A film unanimously loved by everyone and for good reason. I'm guessing the same feat would be repeated as Special 26 shows Pandey was not a one hit wonder. Sure it doesn't have the topical pertinence of A Wednesday, but it still has the anti-establishment poke. We must not forget that Special 26, despite being based on real events, is first and foremost a piece of entertainment and in that it excels.
The film is about a group of con men. They raid a minister's house posing as men from the CBI. Akshay Kumar plays Ajju, the leader of the fake CBI. Anupam Kher (who was as good as Naseerudin Shah in A Wednesday) gives another remarkable performance. The real CBI has Manoj Bajpayee at the helm and he is simply superb. During the film, I was wondering whose side I'm on. The real CBI or the fake one? I'll leave you to have your own tussle with your loyalties.
The recreation of the 80s is downright terrific. From the clothes to the Fiats, it puts you right into that era. Sajid Khan's remake of Himmatwala is being promoted with the tagline â€œThe 80s are backâ€. Sorry Mr. Khan, you might want to rethink how you want to sell your film. We have already seen the real 80s back on screen.
The performances are excellent, the plotting is well done and the music is catchy (which reminded me of the Amitabh Bachchan-Vinod Khanna con film - Hera Pheri). My only quibble is the inclusion of songs which add nothing except length to the film. Although, in the bigger scheme of things this is a minor complaint. I was mighty pleased with this film, as I got what I mostly wished for. I would analogize this with Tiku Talsania. It's been a while since we saw him on screen. There's a cameo by him as the jewelry tycoon. I remembered that weird sound he makes. Would you believe it, even he delivered what I hoped he would!
This is one movie Akshay Kumar should be proud of being a part of. He can make as many Khiladis and Rowdy Rathores (okay probably not as many) till the time he uses his stardom to bring good entertainment to the audience. He is forgiven for conning us with crap like Tees Maar Khan (2010). These so called masala films think they are entertaining us but when you get the real deal, you realize the difference. I would compare this film with a recent Hollywood film called Argo. Most capers depend on the success of the third act. It must go a notch higher or it isn't worth it. The escapism of Special 26 takes flight (literally too). This is fantastic entertainment.view less