Synopsis: A super cop tries to track down the brain behind a series of robberies and murders, but things turn personal when his family become pawns in the criminal’s game.

Review: H Vinoth’s Valimai begins with a series of chain-snatching incidents and a robbery committed by masked men on bikes in Chennai. The public is up in arms against the police force, who are clueless. In an internal monologue, the police chief wishes for a super cop to prevent such crimes. The action then cuts to Madurai, where a temple procession is underway. And so is a murder plot. And then we are introduced to ACP Arjun (Ajith Kumar), the film’s protagonist, whose introduction is intercut with scenes from the procession. Like a God who is held up high, we see this character being rising up from the depths (here, from within a car). In short, a whistle-worthy hero-introduction scene.

Arjun gets posted to Chennai and starts investigating a suicide case that seems to be related to a larger crime that is afoot. As he begins to track the case, he realises it is connected to the chain-snatching and drug-smuggling cases from before. But when the gang’s mastermind (Kartikeya Gummakonda) realises that Arjun is on to him, things turn into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game, in which Arjun’s family become pawns. Can Arjun save both his family and the city from this dangerous criminal?

It’s a clash between stunts and sentiment in Valimai, a somewhat engaging but overlong action movie that hides its simplistic writing with elaborate action set-pieces. We keep getting a sense of Vinoth trying hard to strike a balance between making a gritty action movie and satisfying the demands of a star vehicle. Despite the scope for rooting the action scenes in emotion, the film is content with treating them as just standalone set-pieces. We see this approach clearly in the superficial manner in which the film deals with its secondary characters and their relationship with Arjun. They are mainly one-note – loving mother (Sumithra), drunkard brother (Achyuth Kumar), supportive colleague (Huma Qureshi, who gets one kickass moment and then is relegated to being a sidekick) – or worse, caricatures – corrupt cop (GM Kumar) tattoo-sporting, Goth-like villain’s girlfriend. Even the arc of a dejected brother (Raj Ayyappan) who goes rogue isn’t built convincingly. This is why the film feels less impactful when we are not in the middle of of an action sequences.

But Vinoth makes up for this with the stunts, which are mostly big-screen spectacles that are superbly choreographed (Dhilip Subburayan is the stunt choreographer) and are undoubtedly the film’s highlight. A bike chase in the pre-interval portion and a chase involving a bus, a truck and many bikers in the second half are definitely edge-of-the-seat stuff.