When audiences came to know that the superhit combination that brought us incomparable classics like “Drishyam (2013)” and “Drishyam 2 (2021)” were set to reunite, the expectations expectedly were raised sky-high. Superstar Mohanlal and the master of the thriller genre, director Jeethu Joseph combine forces again to devastating effect in “12th Man” a tantalizing whodunit that keeps you guessing and delights you with unexpected twists till the very end.
Unlike the rustic setting of the Drishyam franchise, we are sucked into a picturesque luxury resort in Idukki, where 11 friends have gathered for a bachelor’s party. Mohanlal enters the fray as an unruly hotel guest who disturbs our young group and how he gets embroiled in an unexpected murder that happens on that evening forms the rest of this story. While there are definite shades of films like “Perfect Strangers (2016)” and numerous Agatha Christie works in the narrative, Jeethu Joseph adds his own flourishes with his trademark twists and suspense building.
Writer KR Krishna Kumar and our master director deserve praise for weaving 12 characters with their own intricate idiosyncrasies and traits, which add layers to the storyline. Cinematographer Satheesh Kurup and Editor VS Vinayak execute the transitions with consummate ease especially the finely crafted back and forth between the interrogations and the flashbacks. The music and BGM by Anil Johnson add an aura of tension and spine-tingling anticipation to the proceedings.
Mohanlal is expectedly on-point as the fractious hotel guest who has his own secrets to hide and especially comes into his own in the finale portions, exuding all the charisma and gravitas we have come to know and love. Among the large supporting cast, Anusree and Saiju Kurup stand out with their well etched-out character arcs and restrained, yet impactful performances. SShivada Nair and Rahul Madhav also managed to captivate with their characters, displaying their myriad emotions and motivations with deftness and poise.
The makers can be forgiven for the long 2 hour 45 minute runtime as they had 12 characters to build and properly flesh out. The third act especially ramps up the stakes and the suspense to keep the viewer hooked, till the final twist hits you like a ton of bricks. Overall, 12th Man is a deliciously constructed, beautifully convoluted Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery that might not rise to the levels of the Drishyam films but provides a gripping watch nevertheless. Recommended!
Review by nidhunmoviebuff