In a scene typifying the overall tone of Lucifer, Stephen Nedumpally stands facing an armed villain. The bad guy has a gun pointed right at Stephen’s forehead, while a bunch of others look on. Several slow mo shots, flying fists and mundus later, the hero has snatched the weapon, killed at least half a dozen men and with his bare hands grievously injured the rest of his foes who came at him not all together but in batches for his convenience as commercial Indian cinema’s satellite villains tend to do.

Stephen, it dawns on his arch enemy then, is no ordinary man. He is, after all, played by megastar Mohanlal, he who is deserving of a smashing entrance, a scaled-up soundscape and wise lines.

Devotion to the Malayalam cinema legend is not Lucifer’s only weakness. The film is equally hampered by a poor screenplay that fails to take its unusual premise forward and by pretensions to a gigantic scale that end up miring the entire narrative in clichés.

As far as disappointments go, this one is a double whammy. Writer Murali Gopy most recently demonstrated his understanding of Kerala politics through Kammara Sambhavam (even if it unfortunately degenerated into a propaganda vehicle for Dileep). In Lucifer, which is set against the backdrop of politics in the state, though he begins and ends with an interesting take on the nature of evil, he flounders in between as the goal appears to become the creation of a grand epic rather than a soul-searching examination of the subject through relatable characters.

As if that is not enough of a let-down, there is the fact that actor Prithviraj Sukumaran makes his directorial debut with Lucifer. Here is another one of his works that does not match the worldview and intelligence he reveals in his interviews.

The story of Lucifer kicks off with the death of the veteran Kerala leader PK Ramadas, also known as PKR, resulting in a power struggle in his party and family. Among the many players in this game are Stephen who is the old man’s foster child, PKR’s daughter Priyadarshini (Manju Warrier), son-in-law Bimal Nair a.k.a. Bobby (Vivek Oberoi) and son Jathin (Tovino Thomas). In the background hovers a gun-toting mercenary called Zaid Masood (Prithviraj himself) and a video blogger played by Indrajith Sukumaran.