Oxygen is a near three-hour anti-smoking ad by producer A M Ratnam and his baby boy, which actually led to a whole host of young men lighting up a cigarette as soon as they walked out of the cinema that I was in. They needed a quick release that would stop them from tearing their hair out after sitting through this abomination masquerading as a movie. If you were to heed our advice, you'd stay home, rewatch those (frankly impotent) anti-smoking ads on YouTube and save yourself some time and money.
The film starts and stays relatively humble before it gets into a nearly unwatchable second half. After two "sharpshooters" kill his brother, respected village-based businessman Raghupathi (Jagapathi Babu) decides to get his only daughter Shruthi (Raashi Khanna) married to a dashing man whose details his brother had shared with him before his death. The man is apparently an orphan, lives in the USA and works at Microsoft - a perfect suitor for any Telugu bride.
As the ideal Telugu bachelor, Krishna Prasad (Gopichand), makes his way back from the USA, he is greeted by his factionist in-laws and a whole lot of contrived scenes to make him appear amazing. With a smile so plastic that it would make Aishwarya Rai blush, he makes his way into the hearts and minds of the gigantic family he is about to marry into. Soon, he neutralizes the threat his new family faces from the leader of the opposing faction led by Veerabhadram (Sayaji Shinde) by duly bludgeoning them.
All is seemingly well. But there are two nagging issues the film has yet failed to address. Firstly, who are the people killing members of Raghupathi's family? Secondly, why is Anu Emmanuel's name on the credits and where is she? The answers come soon enough, but (because we are doing smoking-related metaphors) these revelations just plunge a giant syringe of tar into an already pointless film, stopping it dead in its tracks. The reveals are accompanied by loud noises and over-the-top camerawork, and all the show is at the end nothing but hot, black, carbon-filled air. Come to think of it, it is ironic that the film is titled Oxygen.
Oxygen's script is a Frankenstein's monster of every action movie cliché of the past decade. The film begins as a thematic recreation of Vijay's introduction from Adhirindi
and ends as an ungodly amalgamation of the ideas in Thuppaki and Khaidi No 150
. However, these rip-offs are much easier to swallow as everything in between these two extremes is stuffed with a myriad of boring noise and cheap attempts at garnering audience sympathy.
The film throws factionism, the army, dead family members, an item song, two heroines, some random message somehow shoehorned in and (bad) CGI into the mix and hopes that it will all somehow work. If you want a coherent plot with characters you care about, you're not the target market.
Gopichand himself seems to have realized what he got himself into after he put pen to paper because this is one of the blandest performances you are likely to see from this underused actor. He does not bring his A-game, and that does not seem like an accident.
His co-stars follow suit. Raashi Khanna continues her streak of being wholly forgettable, and Anu Emmanuel, who put in a brilliant shift in Detective
, stares into your soul with all the expressiveness of a puppet - it almost appears like her cardboard cutout was used here. The lesser said about Jagapathi Babu and his merry family the better, and anyone who justifies the presence of Sayaji Shinde, Ali, Venella Kishore and Tagubothu Ramesh is either the film's director or... actually, I can't think of anyone else.
The waste of talent does not end there. This is a movie that has Yuvan Shankar Raja as its composer, but cannot milk a memorable track off him. This is a movie that has A M Ratnam and his history of grand production values backing it, but cannot do a half-decent visual effect to save its life. This is a movie whose themes and story could be wrapped up by the two-minute government-mandated disclaimer that plays before it but chooses to be nearly three hours long.
This film has no reason to exist, and this review has no reason to go on much further either.
P S: At the climactic fight, watch as one stationary CCTV camera cuts between ten different angles, has bullet time effects and slow motion, all while relaying a LIVE FEED to the world. *Sigh*
P P S: Please watch Thank You For Smoking or The Insider instead.