This R-rated action thriller is on the John Wick director’s radar, and it should be on yours too

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

When you’re making a brutal revenge thriller, comparisons to John Wick are almost inevitable. Add in an elite killer with the ability to inflict violence with just about any object as your lead, and the parallels are pretty much a given. But the new Indian Hindi-language action hit Kill is a lot more than John Wick on a train, breathing fresh air into an increasingly stale genre.

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Directed by Hurdang helmer Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, the movie centers on an army commando called Amrit (Porus star Lakshya) who finds out his long-term girlfriend Tulika (A Suitable Boy’s Tanya Maniktala) has entered into an arranged engagement against her will. Determined to derail the impending nuptials, he boards a train bound for New Delhi, cornering Tulika and promising to marry her instead.

Soon the romance takes a turn for the worse when a gang of knife-wielding thieves board intent on robbing passengers blind. Led by the psychotic Fani (Raghav Juyal), things escalate quickly as a cross-country train ride descends into a brutal – and I really mean brutal – killing spree.

The set-up is propulsive, and Bhat perfectly pitches soundtrack drops, witty one-liners, and absolutely diabolical violence into a very R-rated package. So far, so Wick, and comparisons to similar railway-bound thrillers like Bullet Train and Snowpiercer are all earned in this electrifying actioner. However, while Kill’s stunts are undoubtedly on par with its forebears, they’re actually hiding something way more surprising than that comparison would suggest.

Mindless killing


(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Kill doesn’t shy away from its kills, but not in a cartoonish manner where the bodies of the goons pile up and are quickly brushed aside to keep the pace. No, it takes its time to explore its deaths, from the visceral circumstances they happen in right through to the consequences that they cause.

This is all down to the emotional stakes thrumming through the film. Not only is our hero fighting for the purest of emotions – love – but the gang of thieves led by Fani have their own ties as well. They’re all related, meaning that after an initial spree of violence, there’s time and contemplation as both sides mourn those they’ve lost. Then, it’s this distraught feeling that amplifies the next round of murder. 

“I wanted the audience to feel for them and I wanted to humanize the villains,” Bhat told Times Now News about his ‘bad guys’ in Kill. “I wanted the audience to feel for their loss and pain as well.” He does this throughout, not by giving anyone much of a backstory, but by allowing them space to grieve, which, for an action movie so reliant on its pacing, is actually quite revolutionary.

The line between justice and revenge is clouded in battle, after all, as in one poignant moment Fani says to Amrit, “I killed four of your people. You finished off 40 of my family.” Horror echoes in his eyes, as he continues, “You’re not a protector, you're a monster.” It’s enough to give you pause: just who should we support here?

Now, shades of morality in action heroes are not anything new, but there is something very compelling about how Kill approaches it. Indeed, as an ultra-violent film about the futility of violence, the thriller exists in an interesting space, questioning its horrific scenes while also foregrounding them. It’s a tricky dynamic to unpick, but the fact that it’s even recognizing this dichotomy is sure to invite audience discussion. Repercussions are not karate-chopped away here. 

International buzz


(Image credit: Lionsgate)

It’s no wonder then, that Kill has already caused a lot of buzz. An early screening at last year’s TIFF set the ball rolling, and the movie recently had its European premiere at the London Indian Film Festival, screening in the desirable closing night slot. Lionsgate is helming the rollout internationally as well, making the thriller the studio’s first South Asian feature film. 

Even the director of John Wick has taken note, snatching the movie up for an English-language reboot under his production company. “Kill is one of the most vivid, wild, and creative action movies I’ve seen recently,” Chad Stahelski said about the acquisition, admitting they had “big shoes to fill”. 

Famous fans aside, it’s clear to see why everyone is so enamored. While Kill relishes its violence, making the most of its single location with moments for audiences to whoop and holler, there’s also space to navigate genuine shock and heartbreak. So I hope what viewers – and, indeed, a potential remake – will take away is more than the film’s killer premise. 

After all, in the age of overhype and franchise churn, it’s rare that something like this breaks through and takes audiences in a direction they don’t expect. Kill does just that, as it has you questioning why we’re so compelled by its gore, whilst also bringing you along for the thrill ride. Make sure you pre-book your aisle seat for this one. 

Kill is in theaters from today, after premiering at the London Indian Film Festival. For more on what to watch, check out the rest of our Big Screen Spotlight series.

We've also got a breakdown of the best thrillers and best action movies to watch right now.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.