We’re all looking forward to it Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning part one, right? One of Hollywood’s most consistent franchises returns for its seventh installment, once again promising world-traveling thrills and death-defying Tom Cruise stunts. The movie’s biggest problem: it’s coming out in July, four months from now.
But what if I told you there’s a new movie out that would scratch a lot of those same jitters? And you can now watch it at home.
Pathan, the highest-grossing Indian film at the box office in 2023 and the fifth highest of all time, just arrived on Prime Video this week. The fourth installment in the (loosely connected) YRF Spy Universe series, and the second directed by Siddharth Anand after the thrilling 2019 War with Tiger Shroff and Hrithik Roshan, Pathan is a world-traveling espionage thriller heavily influenced by turn-of-the-century espionage blockbusters Mission: Impossible 2 And Die another day.
In Pathan, two former secret agents abandoned by their country react in opposing ways: protagonist Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan) with unwavering loyalty and antagonist Jim (John Abraham) with anger and vengeance. The plot is pretty shallow, as far as espionage things go – there’s a complicated plan involving a virus and plenty of betrayal and double (or triple) agents – but it’s all dressed up for gorgeous, globe-trotting spy thrills featuring some very beautiful people.
Pathan has everything you could want from a world-traveling international spy thriller: car chases, explosions, helicopters, hot people in a litany of awesome outfits, big stunts, rippling muscles, combat atop moving vehicles, romance, song-and-dance numbers, motorcycle chases , an impenetrable vault, exotic locations, a fight on a train, sunny beaches, snowy mountains and explosive set piece after explosive set piece. As Pathaan and Rubai (Deepika Padukone), a Pakistani agent, embark on their mission to stop Jim’s plan, Anand gives them the flair that only spy movies can, complete with breathtakingly beautiful outfits and stylish set pieces that make the most of their bodies in motion.
The big selling point for Pathan is not the continuation of the franchise, but the return of global megastar Shah Rukh Khan (Om Shanti Om, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa). Once the biggest movie star in the world (and still certainly one of the most popular), SRK returns after a brief hiatus from leading roles and still tops the list at 57.
The film knows this from his introduction, strapped to a chair as a prisoner. When he breaks free, gusts of wind (in) come in to show off his billowing torso and gorgeous hair, before a great fight ensues with thrilling hand-to-hand combat with beautiful kicks, fun gunfights with inventive camera placement, and daring stunts. Sometimes it feels like a sequence from the game Super hotwhile Pathaan uses everything at his disposal (including kicking discarded magazines at people) to break free in a sequence that uses slow-motion and speed ramping in fun ways.
As Pathaan, Shah Rukh Khan is his usual easy going, affable and even shy self in romantic scenes (and his many, many outfits are absolutely flawless), but he can take on the much taller and younger Abraham in action sequences. . Abraham’s deep voice and chiseled jaw (at certain angles he literally looks like the Chad meme) with SRK’s charm makes them a dynamic duo.
The action beats are one of the main highlights of the Pathan experience. There’s a phenomenal fight on a train (that timeless staple of the action movie), a thrilling motorcycle chase in the snow and a breathtaking final showdown that… Let’s just say it would make Icarus proud.
Like many big-budget spy thrillers, there is an undercurrent of jingoism (especially with on the relationship between India and Pakistan) that you will encounter while watching Pathan (this is one of the things that makes the work of John Le Carré and the Bourne films so special within the genre). And there are some examples of a patronizing (at best) attitude towards other nations and peoples. The plot also touches heavily on a specific article of the Indian Constitution, so viewers less familiar with the political history of the Kashmir region may feel a little lost at times. Your mileage may vary!
But if you’re looking for something to get those big-budget spy notes ahead of the new Mission: Impossible comes, you could do a lot worse than Pathan. Explosive set pieces and undeniable star power? It doesn’t get much better than that in blockbuster spy movies.
Pathan is available to watch Prime video.