Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023

This time, there’s a nefarious weapons dealer, Kalee (Vijay Sethupathi), who is as malicious as he is violent. There’s also a surprise cameo from a big Bollywood star, whose presence isn’t really a spoiler if you pay attention during the opening credits. And be on the lookout for a duet dance number led by Khan and Deepika Padukone, who have great chemistry, possibly because they know that, by now, they don’t have to really compete for viewers’ affection. Oh, and a couple of the fight scenes are maximalist show-stoppers despite being over-edited and under-directed. Loud and rote, sure, but never boring.

The main reason “Jawan” doesn’t deliver more than what Khan has previously delivered is because its creators seemingly included every masala-style subplot they could think of. Still, “Jawan” is unlike Khan’s last two comeback trail stops because its creators are better at navigating its many hairpin twists and turns. Kudos to director Atlee, a former assistant director whose credits include the Rajinikanth vehicle “Enthiran” and its sequel “2.0,” and his creative team.

Most importantly, in “Jawan,” Khan looks more relaxed than in years past, toggling leisurely through his repertoire of tics and poses. He looks especially comfortable in undemanding musical numbers, and he still gives great Blue Steel looks every time he turns on a slow-mo heel to pout at viewers’ and/or co-stars. Shah Rukh Khan is still a star, baby, and “Jawan” uses him about as well as his fans might hope.

Khan even looks good delivering a corny but impassioned speech later in the movie. As Azad, Khan reminds us that he’s just like you and me, the apathetic public who, despite our best intentions, have not always exercised good judgment when voting for government officials. There’s a general election in India next year, and while the makers of “Jawan” could have otherwise taken bigger risks, their efforts are appreciated.

Now playing in theaters. 

By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.