Understated treatment and tolerable length notwithstanding, Kabeer Kaushik's Maximum is an excruciating watch. Because, really, it's impossible to sit through another film about encounter specialists, their rivalries and the unholy nexus of the power-hungry. The only way such films can continue to be relevant is through deft characterisation which compels the audience to make an emotional investment in the protagonist.
Kaushik tries to achieve this (without much success) through Pratap Pandit (Sonu Sood), an encounter specialist unscrupulous in his dealings and unapologetically so, extorting from builders and film producers, wooing actresses and juggling it all with a reasonably stable life at home with a dutiful wife (Neha Dhupia, boring character and performance) and daughter. Pandit is a man of few words, and despite his volatility, he seems more collected than his older rival Inamdar (Naseeruddin Shah, who has never acted as mechanically) a bitter officer consumed by his ego.
Starting in 2003 and going on up to the days following 26/11, Maximum throws up a bunch of interesting ideas and germs of real-life issues (such as the anxiety over migrant populations and the inability of outsiders to feel completely at home in Mumbai), but it all merely scratches the surface. Ultimately the film's ambition is limited to the rivalry between two trigger-happy cops repeatedly shot in slow motion to rousing music in a bid to elevate them to a heroic stature.
Sadly, nowhere does Kaushik pause to contemplate their hubris and the endless greed that's taking the entire city down with it.