‘CBI 5: The Brain’ Review – Do sequels add value to the nostalgia?


Endless back and forth conversations gets dreary after a point.

Endless back and forth conversations gets dreary after a point.

Writing a sequel for a popular film series with a history of more than three decades and many successes is no mean task. There is always the expectation to better the previous ones or atleast match up to them. Seventeen years have passed since the last film in the CBI series was released. Since then, Malayalam cinema has changed unrecognisably. So have investigation thrillers. Yet, there is still a market for nostalgia, which is what the director-writer duo of K. Madhu and S.N. Swami aims to tap in CBI 5: The Brain.

But, nostalgia alone cannot do all the heavy lifting to make a movie appealing. Unfortunately, for the fifth film in the series, there is hardly anything else to add value. Even nostalgia gets milked to its limits, with that popular theme music that accompanies CBI officer Sethurama Iyer, getting repeated plays, even when he visits the Chief Minister.

The investigation this time revolves around a series of murders, which are termed as ‘Basket Killings’, for reasons which are never explained in the movie. The victims include a minister, a police officer, a cardiologist and an activist, all of whom seem to be connected in some twisted ways. In between, one of the dead minister’s staff members go missing, the CM gets a threat mail and so much else happens, including several character introductions and possible explanations for the murders that it is hard to keep track.

CBI 5: The Brain

Direction: K. Madhu

Starring: Mammootty, Jagathy Sreekumar, Saikumar, Asha Sharath

The police investigation hits a roadblock as expected, and demands are raised for a CBI investigation. In comes Iyer (Mammootty) and his team. Yes, there is the obvious tracking of mobile records and flight data, but most of their findings are arrived at through endless back and forth conversations within the team, which gets dreary after a point. One of the few bright spots is the sequence involving officer Vikram (Jagathy Sreekumar), which also yields a vital clue on the killer’s identity.

Even the staging of the killings, from a regular hit-and-run to a hanging, all of it in a lazy manner, gives one a hint of what lies ahead, not to mention the badly-written opening scenes featuring an induction session for young CBI officers. Be it the script or the making style, everything harks back to the time when the last CBI film was made. It must have taken quite a lot of effort to ensure that the investigation part does not engage the audience at all, so much so that even a clue on the possible killer, which marks the interval point does not evoke much of a reaction in us.

But, much worse is in store, especially the part where Iyer unravels the mystery around the mastermind behind the murders. It is the kind of plot twist that has been so overused that people have ceased employing it nowadays. In the end, one wished for another investigation, to search for the ‘brain’ mentioned in the title, but which is missing in the film’s script. Some sequels end up spoiling for us the memory of an entire series. CBI 5: The Brain is one of those.

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