A remake of 2018 Tamil thriller ‘Ratsasan’, the 2022 Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Cuttputlli’ is an intriguing tale of a police officer trying to nab a serial killer targeting teenage girls. But after a point, the killer moves with the speed and confidence of a supernatural spirit – kidnapping a cop’s daughter right outside their house gate, while her birthday party is still ongoing with a bunch of cops in attendance and the sun hasn’t even set. Matlab kaatil hai ya chudail? (is it a murderer or a witch?)

Directed by Ranjit Tewari, the film starts in a gloomy but picturesque hills of Himachal, where two locals discuss about the crime rate dipping, but ironically discover the body of a dead girl seconds later. We are then taken to Chandigarh and familiarized with principal protagonist Arjan Sethi (Akshay Kumar), a 36-year-old who has been researching on serial killers for seven years to make a movie. Unable to find takers for his script, Arjan finally takes up a job in the police force with the help of his brother-in-law Narinder (Chandrachur Singh) and soon becomes involve in the case of a missing girl, which turns into a serial-killing case.

There are plenty of murders and new characters appearing through the runtime to keep things interesting, but things start to feel a little out of place in the second half. And while Akshay Kumar has played enough cop roles through his career, his acting still falters when he needs to display emotional vulnerability and grief. Rakul Preet plays Kumar’s romantic interest (a pretty pointless role), while Sargun Mehta plays SHO Gudiya Parmar, Arjan Sethi’s senior at work. Both Rakul and Sargun look so similar, it would’ve made sense if they played sisters; instead we have two similar looking actors playing different roles for no good reason. Anyway….

The plot deals with issues like sexual assault, bullying, pedophilia and is largely serious in tone. Sujith Shanker plays creepy math teacher Purushottam Tomar and does his part perfectly, making you detest him, despite his limited screen-time. Thankfully, the script doesn’t get preachy over its content, but does get overstretched in the last half hour. And as mentioned in the beginning, the killer gets absurdly bold with each murder, making the cops look like complete idiots.

There was a clear point where the movie could’ve ended, but the makers decided to give Rakul Preet’s character some more screen-space as an after-thought; so there’s a pro-longed climax that gets tedious. To make things worse, the cinematography in the ending is visually very annoying, because it’s shot in the dark and makes for a jarring experience. They should’ve cut it short by at least 15 minutes, if not more. Sometimes that is all it takes to differentiate between a good pacy thriller and a forgettable filler.

It’s a 6/10 from me. You can stream it on Disney Hotstar.