If Mammootty brings more grace and dignity to CBI 5: The Brain, ironically, it is after he enters the frame that we become aware of the glaring inadequacies in the performances of the supporting cast
What’s missing in CBI 5 is the crisp police procedural drama which the series was known for. We neither feel the urgency of the investigation nor the complexity of the characters. Or for that matter, any nail-biting suspense. CBI 5: The Brain | Director: K Madhu Cast: Mammootty, Renji Panicker, Pisharady, Asha Sharath, Saikumar, Soubin Shahir Language: Malayalam | Runtime: 2 hours 2 mins |
Rating: 2.5/5 *** CBI 5: The Brain
— as the title indicates, the fifth in Mammootty’s popular CBI series of films — starts off with a banger of a title card. Director K Madhu and writer SN Swamy brilliantly weave together key dialogues and scenes from the preceding four movies to the sound of the iconic backdrop score. It’s instant nostalgia recall, a sort of appetiser before the main course. But the excitement is quickly dispelled once the first few scenes unfold. Also Read – Senzo review: True-crime docuseries is low on intrigue, but high on cultural currency A young woman is in a hurry to reach a police training workshop, where two CBI officers, Balagopal (Renji Panicker) and Kishore (Pisharady), are detailing one of the toughest cases they’ve ever cracked. Kishore makes a lame joke about moustaches, and it already seems like a bad omen about things to come.
It’s further validated by their dramatic dialogue delivery and body language that says they are ill at ease in that role and uniform. Also Read – All the Old Knives movie review: Chris Pine-Thandiwe Newton thriller underwhelms The case dates to a few years ago. A minister dies of a cardiac arrest on a plane, his doctor is killed while trekking, an activist who questioned the murder dies by suicide, and a top police official is the victim of a hit and run accident. But unlike the previous plots, the series of murders, coined “basket killing”, drives the CBI team, including Sethurama Iyer (Mammootty), to the wall. Even Iyer really sweats to unravel the mystery. This is a case that dismantles the arrogance of the CBI team. Of course, the usual theories are thrown out including corruption, affairs and personal grudges. Also Read – The In Between movie review: A sappy but strangely moving YA romance Sethurama Iyer typically makes a late entry and it’s perhaps the best scene in the film. Balagopal is in the Delhi office, awaiting his senior, when he is framed in low angle, starting with Iyer’s gleaming black shoes, cotton pants, cream shirt and his trademark stride with hands behind his back.
This time Iyer gets a bit of a starry entry. (In the first CBI we only heard the background music and then Iyer stands quietly in front of his superior.) Also Read – Metal Lords review: A sweet and stale mix of high-school movie tropes If Mammootty brings more grace and dignity to Iyer, ironically it is after he enters the frame that we become aware of the glaring inadequacies in the performances of the supporting cast (a terrible line-up of actors) — especially his subordinates (Pisharady, Ansiba, Alexander, Renji Panicker). If the first two editions had two of his able officers going about their jobs efficiently, the fifth sees a crowded team that appears to be lost and servile in front of Iyer. The democratic space which characterised Iyer’s style of working fails to reach us.
The biggest letdown is the script, which doesn’t thrill at any point. It’s further muddled by the dialogues that are either ambiguous or overamplified. Not only is the making obsolete and stagey but characters are also haphazardly written and positioned. There are too many people in the film — perhaps to create intrigue, but who only end up convoluting the plot needlessly. Nearly 25 out of 30 characters can be counted as redundant. Saikumar returns as DYSP Sathyadas, son of the corrupt and entertaining Devadas from the earlier editions. He retains his obnoxiousness with consistency.
A new addition is advocate Deepa Sreekumar played by Asha Sharath, and she typically hams it up. So does Anoop Menon as IG Unnithan Nair. Soubin Shahir looks out of sorts and proves that when cast out of his comfort zone, he will struggle. One wonders why Dileesh Pothan and Sudev Nair have been used so sloppily. Jagathy Sreekumar makes a cameo as Vikram, and is okay. What’s missing in CBI 5 is the crisp police procedural drama which the series was known for. We neither feel the urgency of the investigation nor the complexity of the characters. Or for that matter, the nail-biting suspense. Worse, it seems like the writer is questioning the intelligence of the viewer. CBI 5: The Brain takes far too long to come to the point and when it does, all we’re left wondering is what the fuss was all about.