BOTTOM LINE: Poor Writing That Hardly Captures The Essence Of The Time Travel Genre
|Platform: SonyLIV||Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller|
What Is the Story About?
A plane JL 50, which took off from Kolkata Airport 35 years ago and was considered lost for good, crashes into the mountains 35 years later, in a remote village near West Bengal’s Bagdogra. CBI Officer Shantanu (Abhay Deol) is intrigued by the fact that a plane that disappeared in 1984 after takeoff, and was MIA for 35 years, suddenly turns up in 2019 out of nowhere.
Since it’s the nature of his job to be suspicious of everything, even of that whose proof is staring him in the face, Shantanu’s first thought is that it is a staged conspiracy. He thinks it’s connected to the disappearance of another flight AO26, which has recently been hijacked by fundamentalists.
As he delves deeper into the mystery of the 35-year old Flight JL50, a story so fantastical that it would seem implausible to the most liberal of thinkers unravels before him. And to discover the truth, he must set off on a journey that seems straight out of the pages of a science fiction fantasy.
Abhay Deol is as exemplary, assured and flawless as ever. Not a note is out of place in his performance. He’s one of the most natural and intuitive actors we’ve got, with no over-the-top hamming and histrionics from him. Pankaj Kapur’s is a welcome comeback on screen after a long hiatus. He imbues his character of Quant Physics Professor Das with just the right touch of intellect, peppered with Bengali quirks. His typical Bengali accentuations are quite endearing.
Piyush Mishra tries every bit to be the eccentric genius as Professor Mitra, but fails. His crazed laughter is a thing to be savoured though, as is his sinister look.
Ritika Anand, who is also one of the producers of JL 50, has done a good job of her part. Rajesh Sharma seems to have been added only to provide a spot of humour to the narrative.
At its core, JL50 is a science fiction thriller, borrowing its story idea from numerous sources — some facts, some from hit movies of the bygone century. It is quite apparent that writer-director Shailendar Vyas has taken inspiration from the real-life disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370, plucked a few ideas from the seminal hit, Back To The Future, and stitched together a movie in the realm of science fiction and time travel.
Yet, while we can say that the basic premise is fascinating, the mish mash of concepts gives an amateurish feel to the story — imagine Da Vinci Code, written by a thirteen year old. Not to say, it is a poorly sketched out narrative, with several loopholes in the plot. A time travel story, perfectly explained and executed, is difficult to pull off convincingly. It is why Christopher Nolan’s movies are so confusing and difficult to comprehend.
Harking back to 263 BC and a secret scientific society from Emperor Ashoka’s time, which must safeguard important scientific concepts from those times, such as fantastic aircraft, time travel, alien contact, and more, seems a bit naïve and too ambitious, to put it honestly. Without great VFX and CGs to prop up the story, it is like biting off more than one can chew. A half-baked angle of ABA – Azad Bangla Association or something to that effect – adds to the feeling that the screenplay has been written by a bunch of amateurs.
Not only the plot, but JL50 also falters on the VFX and computer graphics part of the movie, which are the cornerstones of every science fiction movie that aspires to be great. JL50 is not that movie though. Its VFX are too below average to do any good.
One part that we found really nice in JL50 is the sequence where Abhay Deol uncovers a significant detail of his past. One may say that it’s almost preposterous that the events leading up to the dawning of truth fall into place so conveniently, but well, we liked it. It is an inventive addendum to a not so inventive plot.
Music and Other Departments?
The music of JL50 by upcoming musician Aseem Trivedi is melodic, though ephemeral. The number that plays when the protagonists are back in 1984 is especially peppy and punchy. The cinematography by Bradley Stuckel is average, as is the editing by Sushant Mishra. Nitesh Kumar’s visual effects are a sheer disappointment. Lastly, Shailendar Vyas’ writing lacks sophisticated and that certain intrigue factor.
Abhay Deol and Pankaj Kapur’s performances, to an extent
Glaring plot holes
Poor VFX & CG
Did I Enjoy It?
Yes, to an extent
Will You Recommend It?
Yes, but with reservations
Jl 50 Sony LIV Web Series Review by Binged Bureau
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