Mission Raniganj review: While Akshay Kumar is perfect as the leader of the pack, other characters and their stories do get sidelined in this rescue thriller.

Trust Akshay Kumar to always lead the pack when it comes to taking up hard-hitting stories inspired by true events and heroic tales of unsung warriors. In his latest outing, Mission Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue, the actor steps into the shoes of Jaswant Singh Gill, Additional Chief Mining Engineer at Coal India, who put all his might into saving the lives of 70 miners trapped in the flooded bowels of Mahabir Colliery in Raniganj, West Bengal, in 1989. In a race against time, when all conventional engineering methods failed, Gill came up with a 'jugaad' to rescue the miners. (Also read: Thank You For Coming review: Bhumi Pednekar's sex comedy is peachy, not preachy)

While Kumar delivers a sincere performance showing immense conviction portraying Gill's part, it's the storytelling that doesn't do full justice to the plot. Director Tinu Suresh Desai weaves the screenplay in a manner that it keeps you engaged and invested, with several hard-hitting moments. However, he majorly falters at places where he lets his hero take the centerstage, putting the story at the backseat. In portions where Kumar dominates most of the screen time, the focus is primarily on his actions and efforts rather than the ordeal of the miners stuck deep in the mine. That's when you feel that perhaps a little more attention could have been paid to others as well.

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At 2 hours 18 minutes, Mission Raniganj is well-timed but the first half takes forever to build the plot. It is overloaded with jargon and machinery mumbo jumbo that's gets too much to take in all at once. It's only in the final minutes pre-interval that the story picks up, and the second half gains momentum. That's when you feel the tension that the miners are also feeling. The story by Vipul K. Rawal had so much more to be told than just one night. Dialogues written by Deepak Kingrani are average, and rarely call for any whistles or loud cheers. That being said, I must say that the way Kumar manages to expertly land jokes even in the most intense scenes is commendable.