24 is in many ways a brilliant title for the movie. The run time for the movie is a little less than 3 hours but feels like 24. Time travel seems to have been in-built in the movie script with each scene feeling like its going on for 24 minutes.
The movie is not without it’s merits. 24 is probably THE best sci-fi movie made in Kollywood and in Indian cinema so far. The way the story ties in all the loose ends and pays attention to possible loopholes is incredible and at a level not expected from tamil cinema. The visuals are also stunning and the scene where Manikandan stops time for the first time is a visual stunner. The romantic and comedy tracks in the movie have been kept to a bare minimum; bringing them in only when they can move the story along. Albeit in long, drawn-out scenes.
Sethuraman, A rich scientist running a successful watch company lives in the middle of nowhere, in a large palace with his wife and baby, and works on creating a watch that can manipulate time. Athreya is his twin brother, who walks in shortly after Sethuraman figures out how to manipulate time, and kills everyone except the scientist’s son. How does he know that Sethuraman will figure out how to manipulate time on that specific day at the specific time? And why doesn’t Sethuraman turn back time when he suspects something? How did that key end up in Athreya’s hands? And why does Athreya, a cold calculating person jump down a ravine instead of onto the tracks?
Anyway, shit happens. 26 years laters the son, Manikandan, is a watchmaker and Athreya is a cripple who just wakes up from a coma. Athreya immediately realises he needs the watch to travel back in time to regain his youth. More shit happens and Manikandan dies and Athreya gets the watch. But wait. Surprise surprise. The watch can only manipulate time within 24 hours. Anyway more shit happens and Manikandan is alive and is fooled into thinking Athreya is Sethuraman and understands the story of how he ended up with his mother, who is not actually his mother.
Anyway, emotional shit happens. Manikandan is reunited with Athreya, thinking him to be his father Sethuraman. His mother is reunited with her family. And all of them live together because nobody questions why a super-rich dad wouldn’t meet his son for 26 years. Some brilliants twists and easy fooling of people later, Manikandan figures out how to travel more than 24 hours in time.
He figures out Athreya actually killed his father and travels 26 years back in time to stop him. Although, if he was intelligent enough to figure out time travel, he should have figured out he would be a baby 26 years back. What exactly was his plan to stop Athreya? Cry loudly and annoy him?
Anyway, Shit happens. And the day is saved.
Surya does a good job as Athreya and Sethuraman. Nithya Menon flies by and Samantha stands pretty.
There are some note-worthy twists and brilliant introduction and climax tie-ups which lift up the movie. However, the two biggest failures are in character development and attempting to merge sci-fi and tamil masala. Throughout the movie, the director tells us how the characters are rather than showing us. Athreya tells us how brilliant Manikandan is. Sathyan and Manikandan’s mother tells us how endearing Manikandan is. Random character tell us how Samantha’s character is. And Sethuraman dies so fast we don’t even care about him. In fact, the most strongly developed character is Athreya and I have already started seeing FB posts speculating how he is not dead.
The other problem is trying to merge Sci-fi with tamil masala. The songs are glaring breaks in the flow of the story and are hardly entertaining. The need to have an eagle with higher intelligence instead of just leaving it to chance was, in my opinion, a great drawback. Also, having Manikandan figure out how to travel more than 24 hours when he has displayed no scientific intent whatsoever before that scene brought down the movie a good bit.
However, this is one movie (big names and big budget) which could very well set off a slew of sci-fi movies in tamil cinema and because of that is worth watching.
Story – 8 / 10
Screenplay, Direction – 6 / 10
Music – 7 / 10
Acting – 8 / 10
Overall – 7.25 / 10