The title of the film is a complete misnomer as it doesn't give out any idea whatsoever around the theme of 'Knock Out' which is that of black money being accumulated by politicians across the country. Director Mani Shankar keeps it all simple though without getting into the finest details around the entire network. One can't blame it for that because he did try to do that in his last release 'Mukhbiir' which was a dismal failure.
There is still blame game to play though and it is directed at the below average promos that resulted in near to nil expectations. Poor dialogues that came close to being cheesy and shots in the promos that seemed to have been purposely designed to scream - 'Hey look at me, I am 'Phone Booth' - made one feel that there won't be much interesting in the offing here. In fact the promos did everything which is not required to be done before the release of the film. Seems like the team that designed it wanted the film to fail, rather than succeed.
However, in a way it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as well with 'Knock Out' actually ending up being a reasonably entertaining affair that hooks you to your seat for most part of it. In fact the first one hour of the film is so tout that you can't even momentary check SMSs on your cell phone. Right from the moment a deal takes place between a businessman and a corrupt politician (Gulshan Grover) to the point where Irrfan Khan is taken hostage in a phone booth by a gun wielding mystery man (Sanjay Dutt), 'Knock Out' demands your attention and gets that.
From this point on, it's the curiosity of 'what would happen next' that ends up getting you totally involved in the film. The screenplay is well done here while the dialogues have a mix of humour (Irrfan) and authority (Sanjay) that make you go through those exciting mood swings.
Of course there are filmy elements that come in as well, especially with Kangna appearing all dolled up as a journalist who is asked to rotate twice amidst a crowd of a few thousands so that Irrfan can have a 'better view' of her. Or the character of a cop played by Sushant Singh who is defeated at every juncture whenever he tries to come close to Sanjay. Though unbelievable, they only ensure that 'Knock Out' stays true to commercial elements as well without turning into something too realistic a la 'A Wednesday'.
Its the second half though where the film looses the kind of grip it had showed for the first one hour. A couple of emotional speeches by Sanjay don't quite augur well with the otherwise thrilling mood of the film, hence making 'Knock Out' come across as an average film that is still trapped in the Bollywood way of story telling.
However, performances by the two lead protagonists make the film a worthy trip as well. Despite the fact that Sanjay Dutt comes with the star power, it is Irrfan Khan who gets the best lines and the best moments. He goes through various emotions like turning aggressive to submissive to irritated to confused to guilty to someone whose self respect has gone for a complete toss. He is an absolute riot in his 'Touch Me Touch Me' act where he attempts to sway like Katrina. Kangna is okay in a role that actually didn't much from her while Sushant is effective in the screen time that he gets for himself.
Now if only the film would have ended with as hammer strong an impact as its start, 'Knock Out' would have made for a much more engaging affair. Still, you can enjoy a one time casual watch at least on a lazy evening with friends.