A still from the film '2.0' Image Credit: Supplied

Southern superstar Rajinikanth is out to save the civilians of Chennai in his latest sci-fi spectacle, 2.0, directed by S Shankar.

But if anybody had to be saved,it’s the hapless viewers in the cinema hall who invested their time and money hoping for a riveting face-off in a fantasy adventure studded with robots and gigantic, beastly birds. 2.0 is a gigantic let down on that front.

The film revolves around a disillusioned ornithologist PakshiRajan (Akshay Kumar) who goes rogue and unleashes a terrible technological warfare against the civilians of Chennai. The activist screams himself hoarse about how birds are falling prey to radiation from the towers erected by unscrupulous mobile network providers. No one listens to his earnest pleas against capitalism or ecological imbalance.

PakshiRajan turns monstrously sinister after turning into a beastly bird with superpowers who goes about destroying swathes of people with an unhealthy dependence to their mobile phones.

His modus operandi is simple: snatch away their mobile phones and crush their bones while he’s at it.

Kumar who makes his plunge as a villain with a purpose in South Indian cinema with 2.0, makes his entry only nearing intermission.

Till then, the first half is all about how an unidentified ungodly creature declares war against mobile phones and how Dr Vaseegaran

(Rajinikanth) gears up to save the day with the help of his humanoid creation Chitti. He has a buxom robotic assistant Nila (Amy Jackson) whose job is to make Dr Vaseegaran’s life simpler. Jackson looks fantastically fetching, but doesn’t have much to do. The heavy-lifting is done by ‘superstar Rajini’ who plays the humane scientist and his robotic alter-ego Chitti.

Who will save us from these gems? Perhaps, a sneak peak into our own mobile phones?

If you are a die-hard fan of this matinee idol, you are likely to be seduced by his oft-seen on-screen antics like a robot flipping a cigarette and donning sun glasses in his inimitable style. But if you are greedy to see him in a different never-seen-before avatar, you will be sorely disappointed.

Precious minutes in the first half are wasted in creating a stunning spectacle of carnage of cellphones and civilians. While it’s interesting at first, it gets tedious after the same point is bludgeoned into our brains with relentless consistency.

Even a die-hard Rajini fan may balk at the lack of a strong story and cringe at the juvenile dialogues.

"Chitti, what a pity," snarls Kumar in one scene as he hurtles Chitti to the sky or when a cocky Chitty goes: “I am not one, but super one”.

It’s cheeky but equally lame.

One of the redeeming features of this VFX-laden spectacle is the action-heavy climax. Watching Chitti and his army of robots take on the larger-than-life iron man Pakshi Rajan is fun. But just as we begin to relish the face-off, it becomes too bloated.

It’s painfully evident that a lot of money has been poured into this ambitious project of director S Shankar. Sadly, money cannot buy soul.

The characters seem tin-like with no steely resolve.

Watch this at your own peril.

Stars: 2 out of 5.