Tik Tik Tik (2018)

This is an absolutely preposterous movie.

I enjoyed it.

This is sort of the Indian version of Armageddon, mixed with a heist film, complete with a James Bond-ish villain, enough plot twists and turns for three movies, some thoroughly impossible cartoon physics, a touch of stage magic, a father’s love for his son and anything else they could think of that seemed like a good idea.

I suppose one could describe it as one part Michael Bay’s Armageddon, one part Gravity, one part Moonraker, and one part Ocean’s Eleven, although that still leaves a lot out:  after all, this is a film which manages to be even more preposterous than that (mostly) preposterous collection of movies.

Which is more or less what one does expect of a big budget thriller from India.  Their films have a very different — and more extravagant — approach than we are used to, with a far larger emphasis on thrilling the audience and less on making it believable. Once we get past the culture shock and accept them for what they are, then their films can be a nice change from our more routine efforts.

This one has been billed as India’s first Space film, which prompted someone to resurrect the long lost Tamil film, Kalai Arasi (you can find it on YouTube, without English Subtitles — and a subtitled version is now on my Wish List), about aliens kidnapping a girl so she can teach them music and dancing .

It’s an Indian thing…

The situation is familiar:  a killer asteroid is on its way towards India, and unless it is stopped, forty million people will die.  So the Indian army has a week to send a mission into space to launch a big enough nuke into its weak point and split it in two.

The only problem is that nuclear weapons big enough to do the job have been banned.

But it’s okay, one rogue Asian nation which remains bleeped out (although it’s pretty clear, unless you don’t recognize the little gibe about the “flat-nose” station commander.  Which, admittedly, most Americans won’t), has one hidden on their space station, in a maximum security vault which only a master thief could ever managed to open…

Indian film has a far more fervent cult of film stardom than even Hollywood had in its prime — and that’s still true today, even though Hollywood is no longer actively grooming actors for stardom.

Jayam Ravi is the superstar here, playing Vasu, a stage magician and escape artist turned Robin Hood-style thief, currently in jail because he stole a vital piece of evidence the police were concealing which would have cleared an innocent suspect.  Like a lot of Indian movies, this one was built around its star (and he played an active role in getting it made) so naturally the role fits him perfectly.  But, for a guy who is more superhuman than most action heroes, I find it interesting that he is played as a laid back and quiet guy.

Now, while Tik Tik Tik lacks the traditional song and dance numbers every Indian film has, there are two lengthy songs, tied to lengthy montages (including that inevitable training montage) that are more like what we’d expect in a Western blockbuster…or at least they would be if they weren’t so long.  However, I’ll confess I like the film’s driving main theme, even if we do hear it repeated throughout the film.

Now, as you’d expect, the CGI is often a bit soft, although it wouldn’t look too bad on the small screen — and is better than what we’d see on SyFy.  While we get a comment that all their equipment was made in India (followed by a very snarky comment about Indian products!) I find it intriguing that the Indian shuttles are basically identical to the retired American Space Shuttle — except for a convenient sidehatch they added because the actual door on the side of the cockpit would be too small for an important scene.  However it is invisible for most of the film.

And if you are one of those who isn’t happy unless he’s nitpicking the dumb science in the absurd thriller films he’s watching, their brief stop on their trip to the station is too absurd for words, and the space station has “artificial gravity.”  Now, one might almost think that was a reference to the large turning wheel that is part of the station — except for the minor detail that it is in the background in the shots of the station’s control room.

And, let’s face it, some of Vasu’s magic has got to be impossible — like the scene where he makes a gun disappear  from a soldier’s hand.

But who cares?  This is classic popcorn territory, a big bundle of entertainment of a film — and one that doesn’t hesitate to give the audience what it wants, even if it is silly.

And what about the nitpickers out there?

Just ignore them…

And don’t let them know how much fun you’re having, watching this one.

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