It’s always tricky for a filmmaker to set the bar really high with his very first film.

Naturally, after his stark directorial debut ‘A Wednesday’, Neeraj Pandey creates room for immense expectation from his second film.

‘Special 26’ is nowhere close to being as profound or hard-hitting though. But it works its way around with a tightly written narrative, a good cast and moments of sheer spark. To begin with, the film is far more light-hearted, along with having the quintessential ‘star’ factor, Akshay Kumar.

Based on 1987’s sensational robbery that took place in one of Mumbai’s biggest jewellery stores, the case of which remains unsolved till date; ‘Special 26’ presents yet another ruthless but triumphant attempt by the common man to give back to the country’s corrupt and hypocritical system.

It portrays the power of one individual if he decides to make things right.

While ‘A Wednesday’ had one unknown man avenge the killings of Mumbai’s train bombings in 2006 through an etched out masterplan that puts Mumbai’s entire police department in a frenzy, ‘Special 26’ has four conmen go on a rampage across the country looting politicians and businessmen off their black money.

Ajay Singh (Akshay), along with his second in-charge P.K. Sharma (Anupam Kher) leads the pack of four men, who carry out raids pretending to be CBI/Income Tax officers. While the men are on a spree without any fear of being caught (thanks to the involvement of black money), a real and honest CBI officer Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) takes on the task of bringing them to book.

Unlike ‘A Wednesday’, which portrayed strong undertones of anger and frustration; ‘Special 26’ is way milder. It’s more of a heist movie with a romantic subplot and melodious music by M.M. Kreem. For a change, Neeraj also tries to make female presence felt in this film as opposed to his first, which was essentially a male oriented flick. But it’s a raw deal after all.

Even though Kajal Aggarwal as Akshay’s love interest hovers around in the song sequences and Divya Dutta as inspector Ranveer Singh’s (Jimmy Sheirgill) sidekick keeps spouting all of one line throughout the film, the women clearly have nothing to do. It’s especially surprising and disappointing to see an established actress like Divya in such a dispensable role.

That aside, ‘Special 26’ has its message in place. The scene towards the end, where Ajay Singh sends a money order to Wasim Khan, nails the motive of the film. Returning Wasim’s 100 rupees mistakenly taken by him, Ajay writes a note to him saying, ‘What should I do with this money which is earned by such honest means?’

The country surely needs more conmen like these.