Touted as a spy thriller with Telugu star Mahesh Babu working for the first time with director A R Murugadoss, this flick came with high expectations. Mahesh Babu essays Shiva, an intelligence bureau officer, whose job is to tap into phone conversations to identity evil people in society who can cause potential harm to others. It is while tapping phones he discovers Shalini (Rakul Preet Singh) who is looking for a ‘friend with benefits’ to help ace her medical exams. (Go figure)

Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose and he kills a lady cop friend of Shiva. This sets off Shiva on a chase to nab Sudalai (S J Suryah) and his brother (Bharath). Sudalai is someone with sadistic personality disorder who finds killing people and seeing others suffer a pleasure. What does Sudalai do to escape? How does Shiva get this guy?

Firstly, the movie is not a spy thriller as it has been marketed widely. Shiva is not a spy but a simple intelligence officer doing a routine job. This is the first big let-down of the film.

Secondly, the screenplay meanders to such a great extent that one is left is wondering what the director actually intended. In the first half of the film, Murugadoss establishes who Shiva is and who Sudalai is. However, the flashback portion of Sudalai is lengthy and boring – in fact, it could have been trimmed to just ten minutes to save us the grief.

The second half is about Sudalai and Shiva engaging in a non-thrilling cat-and-mouse game with women who are addicted to TV serials thrown in.

Director Murugadoss’ screenplay which shone in previous films like Thuppakki is simply missing here. It is not logical or consistent with the story and is a hotch-potch of terror instances glued together. What could have been written as a highly engaging game between Shiva and Sudalai is lost in trying to present Mahesh Babu as a superhero and Sudalai as semi-Joker. Even the so-called romance between Shiva and Shalini has no logic or chemistry. This, Rakul’s role is limited to a few scenes and songs as a result.

The performances of Mahesh Babu and S J Suryah are excellent. The two make a mark in this film and it’s a pleasure to watch them on screen.

Murugadoss always tries to deliver a movie with a message and this flick too has a message. It is about the good in humans and the need to be humane even to strangers. While the message is laudable, this SPYder’s web is sadly very underwhelming.