Director: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor
He tries to be a Bond-cum-Bourne kind of a secret agent. More than an intelligence officer, he comes across as an action hero – a Singham over a spy. More than clothes, he changes countries. He can open any door, barge any security, escape every attack and kill any person. He has instant access to database of spies and terrorists across the globe at his fingertips. He is the man – Agent Vinod.
All of that is acceptable as long as the intended espionage thriller has an inventive storyline. But after a world tour across half a dozen countries, the film culminates with a traditional climax where the Indian capital faces a nuclear-threat. The time bomb has to be detected, decoded and deactivated. The only novelty in the narrative is that our neighbouring country is not the perpetrator. It’s not the terrorists but some elite business community who spread terror around the world so that they can gain out of the sudden stock market fluctuations across the world. Ludicrous as it may sound, this is the film – Agent Vinod.
Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) is an Indian intelligence officer who is on a mission to unearth a global conspiracy. A suitcase bomb is being stealthily shifted across countries to finally reach New Delhi where it’s targeted. En route Vinod meets Iram (Kareena Kapoor), a Pakistani agent who has her own agenda but subsequently helps him on his operation.
The spy thriller isn’t essentially designed as a suspense flick. Like his last film Johnny Gaddaar, Sriram Raghavan ensures that the viewer is aware of the villain’s identity at the very onset. The film is more about the hero’s journey to reach the rogue. Moreover there are so many of the scoundrels in the story, spread out across several countries, that you lose track of the mastermind. The writing by Raghavan and Arijit Biswas, after a point, gets convoluted and manipulative to suit the scheme of things. Moreover the exaggerated action often overpowers the aptitude you expect from an espionage film. Also the action is more brawn over brain.
Thankfully the romance track between Saif and Kareena isn’t overblown. Their camaraderie is buildup amidst the central plot and the narrative never strays from its core genre. However at one point you do feel that the film is going off-track when the stylized spy flick ponders on the trials and tribulations in the life of an undercover agent. Further it attempts to explore their latent aspirations – he wanted to be a painter, she a doctor! Ah! Such pragmatism doesn’t work in the larger-than-life picture. Mercifully their past isn’t explored through actual flashback footages but is merely described through dialogues. Verbosity is better than visual atrocity.
Beyond some sporadic moments, the film lacks any underlying tone of humour, despite the potential. That makes the proceedings somewhat dry. The dialogues are plain functional. Pooja Ladha Surti’s editing is smart and sassy and the long runtime doesn’t hurt much. The action is slick but doesn’t stand out. CK Muraleedharan’s cinematography is competent. The background score which derives from James Bond signature tune and RD Burman numbers works well.
Saif Ali Khan pulls off the suave and sophisticated secret agent with panache. He has good screen presence and looks confident and convincing. Playing a spy herself, Kareena Kapoor boasts of a decent role and sufficient screen-time. Ravi Kishan is impressive in a cameo. Adil Hussain has a menacing screen presence. Dhritiman Chatterjee is good. Ram Kapoor is laughable. Maryam Zakaria and Malika Haydon add to the glam quotient.
The film starts with an interesting prologue in Afghanistan and ends with a witty epilogue in London. How we wish the globetrotting in between was as much compelling. The film is entertaining but not in entirety. Agent Vinod gets the nod though not whole-heartedly!
Verdict: Above AverageAgent Vinod Gaurav Malani Kareena Kapoor Prem Chopra Ram Kapoor Reviews Saif Ali Khan Sriram Raghavan Times of India