The concept of 'department within a department', both in police as well as underworld, was the kind that could have been taken to an extra distance. However it appears that Ram Gopal Varma perhaps wanted to tell that tale the other day. He hints on that with an epilogue sequence which sets the stage for a sequel to 'Department'. Well, if he indeed intends to do that, an added contribution from dramatic sequences and less of action and techno-wizardry would help. While one expected Ram Gopal Varma to unveil the underbelly of the police department, the filmmaker instead gets into a 'dhishoom dhishoom' mode.
So while encounter cops (Sanjay Dutt, Rana Daggubati) raise heat on an ex-don (Vijay Raaz) and his amateur gang members (Abhimanyu Singh-Madhu Shalini, overall 'Department' just turns out to be an extended action affair. In the middle of this all there is Amitabh Bachchan who plays some interesting mind games and comes up with a tell-tale account of how politicians and cops are required to so certain 'legal things illegally' in order to clear the state of it's muck (read: underworld). The problem though again lies in the exploitation of this episode.
This is the reason why once the master plan is revealed, you just wish that if only there was more of written word than only action choreography and visual imagery, the better 'Department' could well have been. As for visual imagery then well, let the fact be stated that it is by far the most experimental technique that has ever been used in a mainstream Hindi film. The camera captures its characters up, close and personal, so much so that you are with Sanjay Dutt when he is driving a car, sipping tea when you are with Rana and breathing down Big B's neck when he is trimming his moustache.
Even otherwise, there are a few scenes that do lead to a good interval point. The tense 'find the killer' sequence set in a busy marketplace, Amitabh Bachchan's introduction (not-so-funny but still effective), Sanjay's detailing to Rana about the way underworld operates and his ideology and then the crucial sequence at the interval point - all of these do remind of vintage Ramu touch since the focus at these places is more on story than any gimmicks.
However there is trouble in the second half as 'Department' starts focusing on Abhimanyu, Madhu, their parallel gang and a love story which is more of an interruption than an accessory. Worse, none of the two actors are convincing in their parts that only makes one miss the lead actors more. This is where Rana Daggubati comes as a welcome respite since his body language, mannerisms, dialogue delivery, facial expressions and the physique ensure that he gets good marks for his role of a cop. As a toughie who uses his muscles and bullets to good use, Rana makes further progress from his 'Dum Maaro Dum'.
Comparatively though, Sanjay Dutt comes across as just about average and his scenes doesn't quite justify the meat that his character carried. On the other hand Anjana Sukhani gets a very good screen time for herself and does justice to her role. Lakshmi Manchu is hardly present though and reprises the kind of role that Rukhsar has enacted in perhaps half a dozen films in recent times!
As end credits start rolling after an interesting climactic fight sequence between Dutt-Rana (in slo-mo) followed by an interesting (though predictable) epilogue sequence, how one wishes that the team of 'Department' could have done as much justice to the film's core plot since it had so much potential to be nurtured to the fullest.