First and foremost, congrats to 'Thala' for his milestone of fifty movies. It is indeed a terrific achievement for a self-made man who has inspired many (me included) with his self-confidence and 'never give-up' attitude. Let me try to write this review not just like an Ajith-fan but also a matured movie lover.
Mankatha is all about Ajith. Thala's screen presence is enormous and its just to the likings of his fans all over the globe. But, Venkat Prabhu needs to be credited to cast Ajith in a negative role like this. He has indeed introduced the noir genre to tamil cinema (where every character has grey shades and deals with treachery, paranoia, cynic etc and everything revolves around money, selfishness, violence). This is indeed something new for tamil audiences who have been brought up on a steady diet of a 'good' hero bashing up a baddie and saving the world/his muse. The first-half drags a lot. Screenplay moves very slowly and the movie length definitely needs a trim for sure. Post-interval it gets racy leading to the climax with a nice twist. The fight sequences are one too many and lasts really long and boring at times. There is the thala-signature car chase and bike chase sequence which is hot and racy!
VP has casted most of his famed-team of Prem, Vaibhav, Premji etc. He has blended action with subtle comic-sense in his usual style. Prem's role is flat. Vaibhav and Premji has got good meaty roles and they should be grateful to share much screen-space with a top hero. Premji is a let down and he has become monotonous in all his movies. He fails to evoke laughter sans 2/3 scenes. Trisha's role is small one and she has made most of it. Lakshmi Rai get a wink and look role which doesn't warrants a review on her performance. She adds in the oomph-factor to the movie. Other 2 girls are just a fill in.
The movie scores when you start relating yourself with thala's character. He is devilish at his best. He carries us along the plot which otherwise was let down by a loose screenplay. Arjun needs a special mention and he has done a great work. His cat and mouse game with Ajith is really exciting.
This is definitely a fresh and bold attempt by a front-line hero like Ajith to come out of the usual framework meant for mass-heroes. I am sure this would inspire other peers of his to follow suit.
Mankatha = a win-win gamble for Thala!