February 18, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Rajendra Reddy
Telugu with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in India, the action film “Amigos” features a predominantly Indian cast of characters (with some black people) representing the working-class, middle-class and criminal underground.
Culture Clash: After a man meets two of his biologically unrelated look-alikes, he finds out that one of them is a notorious criminal who is a fugitive from authorities.
Culture Audience: “Amigos” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching far-fetched action movies where everything is repetitive and predictable.
An action movie about unrelated look-alikes and mistaken identities usually has only two characters with this problem. “Amigos” has three characters who are unrelated look-alikes, which just makes this muddled story become increasingly doltish. And with a total running time of 137 minutes, “Amigos” is just too long for a movie with a very thin and silly plot.
“Amigos” is the feature-film debut of writer/director Rajendra Reddy, who copies so many other Bollywood action films in having the same soundtrack-blaring tone as characters have simple-minded conversations and go from one ridiculous scenario to the next, with some musical numbers thrown into the mix. “Amigos” is just more of the same mind-numbing regurgitation about doppelganger misadventures, with the only novelty being that it’s about three look-alikes instead of the usual two. The movie could have done a lot of interesting things with this concept. Instead, it’s just mindless mush that drags on until the very predictable end.
In “Amigos” (which takes place in various cities in India), a “regular guy” named Siddharth (played by Nandamuri Kalyan Ram), nicknamed Siddhu, works with his uncle (played by Brahmaji) in a family-owned land development business based in Hyderabad, India. Siddhu finds out about a popular website called GetDoppel.com, where people can find their biologically unrelated look-alikes. The movie has montages showing that it’s become a fad for people to post social media photos and videos of people meeting their look-alikes from around the world. Siddhu soon gets caught up in this fad, for better or worse.
The “better” part happens when he meets two men on GetDoppel.com who look exactly like him (except for their hairstyles and how they dress) but all three men have very different personalities from each other. Manjunath Hegde (also played by Ram) is a nerdy and brilliant software engineer/computer programmer from the city of Bangalore. Michael (also played by Ram), who likes to wear sunglasses and habitually smokes cigarettes, is a mysterious “tough guy” from the city of Kolkata. All three men meet in person in Goa and become fast friends.
The movie takes an awfully long time in showing montages of Siddhu, Manjunath and Michael going on adventurous trips together. While Siddhu and Manjunath tell each other that they feel like they are brothers, Michael isn’t as open about his feelings. He remains a little more emotionally guarded than the other two newfound pals. “Amigos” does a terrible job of creating suspense, because it’s obvious that Michael has secrets that he’s trying to hide.
“Amigos” spends a lot of time time on a subplot about how the three look-alikes use their physical resemblances to help Siddhu court a hard-to-please love interest named Ishika (played by Ashika Ranganath), who has a specific list of what she wants in a potential husband. Siddhu fulfills only part of her list of requirements. And so, Siddhu asks his look-alike new best friends to pretend to be him whenever he needs to impress Ishika in a specific way.
Ishika wants a highly intelligent man (which is where Manjunath comes in handy) and a man with great physical strength and bravado, which is where Michael is helpful. The Siddhu look-alikes pretend to be Siddhu when Ishika gives various tests to see if “Siddhu” meets her requirements. It’s really an idiotic scheme to deceive Ishika this way because Siddhu can only keep up the charade for a limited period of time, since his look-alikes can’t always be around to pretend to be him.
The “worse” part of this doppelganger get-together comes when Siddhu and Manjunath find out that Michael is really a ruthless arms dealer named Bipin Roy, who is a fugitive from the National Investigation Agency (NIA). (This isn’t spoiler information, because this real identity is revealed in the movie’s trailer.) And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why he wanted to meet Siddhu and Manjunath: This criminal wants to steal their identities.
“Amigos” has these characters in chase scene after chase scene that don’t really further the story but just make the plot more tangled and ridiculous. The fight scenes aren’t believable at all. Some of the visual effects are adequate, but the rest of the visual effects are downright awful, because the cast members are obviously acting in front of a screen, not a real location.
Although he plays three different men in “Amigos,” Ram is mostly watchable as Siddhu. He portrays Manjunath in a bland and generic way. His depiction of Michael/Bipin is very cringeworthy as an over-the-top villain, including a very fake-sounding deep voice. The portrayal of Michael/Bipin is so terrible, viewers might be more likely to laugh at this character than feel like this character is menacing.
All of the other cast members give mediocre-to-bad performances, although Brahmaji seems to be doing the best he can in his comic relief role as Siddhu’s uncle. “Amigos” has the expected betrayals and fight scenes that all lead up to a very underwhelming and unimaginative ending. If “Amigos” were a baseball game, the mishandling of the “three look-alike friends” concept is not only fumbling the ball, but it’s also a complete “three strikes and you’re out” failure.
Mythri Movie Makers released “Amigos” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on February 10, 2023.