The story of Haku Kale and four petty criminals continues in director Nischal Basnet’s Loot 2, a solid but overwrought sequel to the 2012 flick with the same name. While it may not have found a rhythm to its pace or the immediacy of its prequel, Loot 2 does hold on its own, but not without a nervousness that envelops the movie enough to deter some potential viewers and fans.
There’s a sense of deja vu here. Four years may not seem like a lot of time, but Nepali movies have definitely evolved (partly also because of Loot) enough to make movies like Loot 2, suspend somewhere between lurid realism and fiction. The leaning is more towards the first.
Loot had also followed this same device. Its characters were rightfully pedestrian, with their foul mouth and hot heads, and the ambition of its helmer was apparent in the calculated risk both Haku Kale (Saugat Malla) and the movie took. The rest is history, as they say; history has a tendency to turn around if legacy gets broken.
One can sense director Basnet’s genuine involvement in trying to elevate Loot 2 beyond the obvious comparison to its prequel. His characters have matured… in a subtle manner like the effect passing of time has on individuals.
It is a daunting task to live up to the pop culture phenomenon that is the prequel anyway, which at the time when most movies were subjected to the whimsy of filmmakers, offered the viewers a genuine chance of involvement with the going ons in the screen.
One can sense director Basnet’s genuine involvement in trying to elevate Loot 2 beyond the obvious comparison to its prequel. His characters have matured, not in a way warranting epiphanies mind you, but in a subtle manner like the effect passing of time has on individuals.
Here, every character gets a set piece for their performance. From the frenzied Gofle (Dayahang Rai) who has just spotted Haku Kale on the street to Putali (Srijana Subba) who is again seen bickering with her husband, but now in a sprawling mansion. Almost all the characters (except for Reecha Sharma’s character which could have easily been put on hold for the next movie in the series) in these scenes in the first act are written with care by Basnet. It seems that many such scenes didn’t make the cut though (like the tender moment between Haku Kale and Putali in the still above and a few others which appear in the trailer) making one question if the movie has grown large, beyond the grasp of director Basnet.
By the time Haku Kale literally breaks away from a cocoon, in the movie’s most striking and resonant scene masterfully captured by Purushottam Pradhan, the movie ironically returns to its former shell of frenetic action sequences and familiar plot points.
By the end, when everything is used to excess, from the action sequences to the wryly amusing oneliners (reality ho reality, this is not a fictional drama) the movie gets exhaustive, even though Gofle, Nare (Karma Shakya), Khatri (Prateek raj Neupane) and Pandey (Sushil Raj Pandey) clearly are not burnt out.
Loot 2, which ends with the prospect of a sequel, does warrant a view solely because most have already invested in its now iconic characters. But the same may not be true in the case of Loot 3.