'An Action Hero' - the Film

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An Action Hero (2022) is the first Hindi-language film to be made on the Isle of Wight. Set briefly in Haryana in India before moving to England, specifically London and "Portsmouth" - by which they mean the Isle of Wight (the film has a poor or very twisted sense of geography) - the film is rated 12, is 2 hours 8 minutes long and completely fails the Bechdel Test, having no named female characters whatsoever. An Action Hero has a surprisingly unusual plot, which is accompanied by a meta critique on the role of the media in suddenly switching between lionising and demonising celebrities. Sadly despite broadly positive reviews, with most negative comments focussing on the lack of female characters, the film bombed at the box office. This has also been attributed to the film's generic name and lacklustre marketing.


In London, agents from RAW1 go to the SIS Special Intelligence Service to see Maanav, a prisoner who is locked in a room, with the story essentially a flashback.

A week earlier, Maanav was a famous Bollywood film star playing an action hero in the Haryana area of India, with the most pressing thing on his mind the delivery of a new car that he had waited three months for. He is largely unaware of the presence nearby of Vicky Solanki - a corrupt, local male politician with an even more corrupt, criminal older brother - who wants Maanav to pose for a photo to boost his popularity and help him win his upcoming election. All Maanav wants to do is improve his performance in the film he is making's key climactic fight scene and then drive his new toy. Instead of meeting Vicky, who has already spent a considerable length of time waiting, as soon as his work is done takes his new car for a test drive. Feeling snubbed, Vicky follows and attacks Maanav, but Maanav accidentally kills him in self-defence. While Maanav leaves the scene, trying to contact his lawyer, the inept local Haryana Police find Vicky's body, and his crimelord brother Bhoora swears revenge. Maanav panics and flies to London, trying to contact his lawyer to prepare his defence of it being a traffic accident with Vicky at fault, and then goes to "Portsmouth" as he has a house there. Meanwhile after learning Maanav's whereabouts, Bhoora assaults the local police chief at Vicky's funeral and orders the police to strip naked and stay naked until his return, which they proceed to do.

Maanav walks a 25-mile round trip to a corner shop in what is clearly labelled the Ventnor Co-Op on the southernmost part of the Island even though his house is the opposite, northern coast of the Island at Wootton. Despite clearly being outside the London area, two Metropolitan police officers call in to his house, but they are shot dead by Bhoora, who has arrived and set a trap for Maanav. Alerted, Maanav runs away, instantly teleporting from Wootton back to Ventnor. He flees along the road leaping police cars, as the police now believe he is a cop killer, and sees a building with specially-placed scaffolding, which he proceeds to climb, pushing builders out of his way so that they fall dramatically into skips while showing his acrobatic prowess. This allows him to steal a car which teleports to Essex, next to a road sign pointing left to Theydon Bois, Epping and the Hobbs Cross Golf Centre2, which turns briefly into a dual carriageway before instantly into a country lane. Chased by the police he drives around a dairy farm before teleporting back to the Isle of Wight and parking in a National Trust car park off the Military Road near Freshwater.

Meanwhile back in India the news media are having a field day, encouraging many of Maanav's most loyal fans to now demand he face the death penalty for his 'murder spree'. Back in the car he has stolen, Maanav is suddenly attacked by Bhoora but manages to get Bhoora's gun. Maanav decides to lock Bhoora in the boot of his car and tells him to return to India once he escapes. That done, Maanav agrees to a rendezvous with Sai, who he has been advised is someone who can help him. He begins to walk a scenic 9 miles or so to the Blacksmith's Arms country pub near the middle of the Island from West Wight, pausing only to buy an ice-cream from an ice cream van, fix a man's car and teleport briefly to Sussex to see the famous Seven Sisters. In the pub that night he arranges to buy from Sai dashcam footage from cars parked near his house that prove it was Bhoora, not him, that shot the police. However he is told that to collect the footage he will need to go to London, where the person hacking the security footage is based. Sai takes him back to Sai's house in St Lawrence outside Ventnor, which is due south of the Blacksmith's Arms, but nevertheless they first head west in order to slowly pass the carpark where Bhoora had escaped from the boot of the car purely for plot reasons, so that Bhoora can sneak onto the back of Sai's vehicle undetected.

Sai has his own agenda and makes a mysterious phone call, but is killed by Bhoora who breaks into Sai's house to attack Maanav. They are interrupted by Sai's contact, a professional criminal called Qaadir, and his gang. This leads to a three-way fight between Qaador, Bhoora and Maanav before Bhoora forces Maanav to hold the new combatants hostage. Maanav manages to get into a car and, during a chase sequence, they all teleport to the mainland so that chasing motorbikes can randomly explode. Suddenly everyone goes from the Isle of Wight to London without the need to catch a ferry - only for all the characters to get on a ferry in the middle of the Thames as soon as they arrive there.

After fighting in the Thames, Maanav decides to blend in with the Londoners by dressing as a Palace Guard complete with bearskin hat. He collects the evidence that he wasn't responsible for the police officer's deaths and heads to a London police station to surrender, but is kidnapped right in front of it on Qaadir's orders. Qaadir is killed by Bhoora, but it is revealed Qaadir had been working for Katkar, an international terrorist who promises to help Manaav provided Maanav agrees to dance at his granddaughter's wedding that day. Will Bhoora interrupt the wedding? What does an international terrorism network want with a film star? How will Maanav's public react next?

Dramatis Personæ

Maanav, an action heroAyushmann Khurrana
Bhoora Solanki, vengeful criminalJaideep Ahlawat
Sai, hacker and pub chefNeeraj Madhav
Qaadir, criminal working for KatkarGautam Joglekar
Mannu, famous actorAkshay Kumar
Roshan, Maanav's assistant in IndiaHarsh Chhaya
Qaadir, Sai and Katkar's contactVaquar Shaikh
Inspector Roop Kumar, police chiefJitender Hooda
Vicky Solanki, Bhoora's brotherSumit Singh

Making Of

"Portsmouth" looks ridiculously identical to Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. The historic dockyard that Portsmouth is famous for, with its historic ships such as the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, are no-where to be seen. Instead the action takes place on the Isle of Wight, amusingly including along Ventnor's Belgrave Road, which has famously been closed off due to landslip and the fences can be clearly seen. Manaav is seen doing acrobatics in front of little shops with 'Ventnor' and 'Island Products' in big friendly letters in the windows. Local scaffolding firms were involved in constructing scaffolding around the huge former police station and health centre on Church Street so that the action scenes could be filmed there, with Ventnor cut off for the day in order for the car chases scenes to be filmed3 heads to London while Maanav hangs around where Ventnor Pier used to be and up the Cascade gardens, deliberately filmed in such a way as to miss catching the model of the Isle of Wight in the shot. Initially there is an aerial shot of Ventnor labelled "Portsmouth" and later on in the film another establishing shot of Portsmouth actually shows Portsmouth, including the Round Tower built in 1418 and the more recent Millennium Project Spinnaker Tower - with it being blatantly obvious that the two places both labelled "Portsmouth" clearly cannot be the same place.


On the whole an amusing film from the Isle of Wight perspective, as well as including a commentary on the role of the media. There are several Indian news broadcasts shown, in which the news readers clearly are not constrained by laws of neutrality. These news hosts start shouting their opinions about what had happened, despite not knowing, calling for a 'Bollywood boycott'. There is also a news report shown on a fictional 'British News Channel' hosted by someone with a very exaggerated accent.

One funny moment takes place when Manaav calls the Military Road4 the A1 Motorway. This scenic single-lane road is actually the A3055 and very popular with cyclists.

It would appear that the filmmakers realised that filming on the Isle of Wight and calling it 'Portsmouth' is bizarre at best, stating:

The film including all characters, backdrops and incidents portrayed in the film and the names used in the film are a work of fiction....

The film does not warrant, represent or make any claim of authenticity or correctness of any events and/or incidents projected in this film. Some... places, history of any person (living or dead), buildings used in the Film may be fictitious and any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental and unintentional.

The film is intended for entertainment purposes only. Neither the content of the Film, nor the producers, the directed... or any other person associated with the film intend to disparage, malign, defame or slander or hurt or be disrespectful to any ...place... community or individual(s).

At time of writing (June 2023) An Action Hero is available to watch on Netflix in the UK but has not yet been released on physical media such as DVD or Blu-Ray.

1India's foreign intelligence agency, standing for Research and Analysis Wing.2Essex seems a long way to go in order to film a random road sign.3Although to be fair, Dr Beeching had cut Ventnor off years ago.4Built by the army in the 1860s to allow troops stationed at Freshwater Bay Redoubt to rapidly deploy to any potential invasion sites along the West Wight.

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