Review: ‘Special Ops 1.5’ Doesn’t Bring Much to The Table

Special Ops 1.5 stars Kay Kay Menon in the lead.
Hot star brings another crime / justice/ espionage show in keeping with the space which it is now familiar with and cashing in on. Ever since the success of Sacred Games and then The Family Man. Special Ops 1.5, like many of those that we now see, is about an eccentric boss man who dances to the beat of his own drum and knows no fear or flaw (at least not any that we can’t come to respect or love).
Think of those outlier cop stories, something Clint Eastwood or maybe Harrison Ford, men who will be men, who will run the show and who will save the day – that is the crux of this story. Like many of its predecessors, it boasts a large cast of characters, international locations, multiple small events and many storylines that all lead to the eventual glory that will be our lead – Himmat Singh.
Kay Kay Menon in Special Ops 1.5.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube screengrab)
Special Ops 1.5 follows Himmat Singh and his trusted sidekick, Abbas Sheikh, are back and bring with them drama, espionage, global level terror operations operated out of the heart of Pakistan and the Middle East and they will not standby and watch the world burn to the ground. Like the previous instalment in the franchise, the dramatic beats, well-designed characters, a touch of Star’s massy masala flair are all there, and so is a well researched and clearly educated story.
This time, Himmat Singh is brought to us as not the man we know but the man we have to get to know, almost like an origin story and while all the elements of the first season are there, no surprises, the bad guy is none other than one of their own. The season oscillates between our tours, travels and glimpsing into Himmat’s love life all the while he tries to smoke out a traitor and bring to a stop all the mayhem and mess created within the intelligence agency by the fact that one of their very own is throwing them under the bus.
The shows dialogues are some of the obvious and on the nose in parts. An attempt at humorous poetic flashbacks in which the visuals are stylised and exaggerated, as if straight out of a Wes Anderson film, are also techniques that have been attempted albeit half heartedly. The script remains fun and fast paced though, and has that classic cat mouse energy. The visuals in many places lend a very throwback aesthetic of gangster Hindi cinema that we don’t see much anymore, associated with films like Shooutout at Lokhandwala, Wadala and even Gangster (minus the sexual energy).
Vinay Pathak in Special Ops 1.5
In places it even has a fairytale energy, a “once upon a time…” element but fails because of how repetitive certain subplots are. Gullible intelligence officers with wives and kids waiting at home they’re eager to cheat on and sexpionage, we get it. One need not be slapped across the face with it.
An interesting aspect of the show is that even with its fast paced writing and good acting, it was unable to suck me into its universe like a Mindhunter or Scam 1992. There remained a distance the story and me and I attribute that to the production style. Very bright studio lights (another Star tv serial thing it seems) and disconcerting angles where everyone stands around a living room as if waiting for the Queen of England to arrive, can seem so off putting and really doesn’t allow any justice to the situation.
Special Ops 1.5 doesn’t bring much to the table that we haven’t seen and maybe even feels a little dated. Maybe 5 years ago this would’ve been something new but for now, it’s alright.
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