Agent Vinod - Review
An almost 3-hour long, slick chase sequence that gets exasperating by the end. The climax itself is first unintentionally hilarious and then infuriating. A suave hero you couldn't care for, a pretty damsel-in-distress who exists only to add stress to the hero's life and ours - this situation saved by a brilliant (albeit choppy) background score and a couple of uber-cool action sequences.
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How often have you seen the Indian audience bank their hopes on the director instead of the stars? From my parents to my readers, the voices have turned excited as soon as they realized Agent Vinod is by the Johnny Gaddar guy. And it's not like the stars Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor are disliked or scoffed at. Hence, you resist the disappointment with the director/writer as you jeer, mock-cheer, tch-tch-tch and ultimately slap your forehead in despair as Agent Vinod progresses towards regression. You can sense director, Sriram Raghavan's discomfort with the extra money - just like a person who is uneasy among hoity-toity, snotty people, would be at a page-3 event.
For all you know, Raghavan's original story, like his earlier ones, might have been set between Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Delhi. But, well, what would he do with all the extra money? So, let's make the RDX into a nuclear bomb and voila, you have Morrocco, London, the works. We still have money left. Hmmm...songs, let's do songs. A lavish 'mujra' and a scintillating mix of color and light in a Gothic set should do the trick.
Sure, you could call it the pressures of commercializing a product. But, I'd like to give Raghavan a little more credit than that. I think he's smart enough to know that he doesn't need to commercialize his product. He is the brand. But, oh well. Who said an intelligent person has to be confident about handling money?
The sign that things might not be all right show from the first sequence. A quote from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly cuts into a scene which feels like it is right out of that film. Is it a spoof? Is it a tribute? No, it's a desert in Afghanistan. Should you smile at the reference, should you engage with a tortured RAW agent? Thankfully, this is soon followed by a slickly choreographed action sequence.
But the confused genres show up again before you can feel reassured that you have some mind-blowing action to look forward to. Like any half-decent thriller, Agent Vinod fools you, leads you on, makes you feel smart about yourself by having characters smile that weird smile which tells you they are upto something, throws in your face a tattoo or a musical instrument-cum-weapon you ought to remember. But at each juncture, Agent Vinod leaves a loophole waiting to be answered. Whatever made sense, left the house at interval.
The last 30 minutes feels like another film that started after the first one had the most ridiculous finish. The climax of this climax made me angry. Did they even realize what they were implying an agent from India's intelligence agency did?! People who know nothing about national security would come up with a solution like this after being a few drinks down.
That besides and saving a few wise-cracks, the writing had way too many distractions, be it story, screenplay or characters. For example, with every film referenced, from Don to the original Agent Vinod to Charlie Chaplin, you are taken away from the mystery Agent Vinod is trying to solve. So eager is Sriram Raghavan to make his reverent tributes that he didn't realize how they are deviating from the genre. (Oh, how I'd loved the way he paid his respect to Anand in Johnny Gaddar!)
Then, throughout the film, characters are introduced either to be killed or they turn out to be an undercover terrorist/agent. I'd love for a psychoanalyst to analyze Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) - he's confused about a childhood memory; he switches between being an aware human with a gut-feeling and an insensitive man's man. But then, that would mean the psychoanalyst and I would be spending more time on the character than the writers.
Similarly, Irma (Kareena Kapoor) is introduced as a doctor who is an aide to a terrorist but takes refuge as soon as she sees a capable man around. The way she became a pitiable woman at the drop of a hat, there was an instant when I doubted myself. I wondered whether I'd misunderstood that she was supposed to be either an international agent or a terrorist.
The chemistry between the Agent Vinod and Irma was dropped down to pillow talk between Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. No people, no need to get excited. It's the kind of pillow talk that can put you to bed.
No single character has a stay long enough to make an impact or engage except for Adil Hussain who had an elegant terror about him. Ravi Kissen and Ram Kapoor had fun-type quirky characters, while Prem Chopra was an annoying caricature. For the kind of terrorist he is proposed to be, he seemed weirdly compliant. Others like B P Singh and Mariyam had too annoying an accent and delivery style to consider anything else. And there are a few blink-and-miss cameos too.
I realize that I'm tipping heavy on the story and characterization in an action film. But that has a lot to with this being a Sriram Raghavan product. I know he has a smart style of narrating his story, but what troubles me is that this is like any other action film, especially since you have a wide range of Hollywood franchises to choose from. Also, somehow when Agent Vinod does it, it doesn't look as real as a Bond, Hunt or Bourne. It might have to do with the impression that MI6 is more capable than RAW.
Throughout the film, I marveled at the different sound that the film had and how my feet tapped to the background score continuously. But, did it add to the story's character? It felt like the background music was on a different trip altogether. Similarly, sure, the camerawork, editing and some of the action sequences were state-of-art but they seemed like a different department not necessarily congruent with the story. Parts added together, certainly. But did they make the film whole?
Again, the songs, 'Raabta' did a 'khoya khoya chand' from Shaitan. And I can't thank the decision-makers enough for not having 'Pungi' as a part of the film, but I'd have liked to say nicer things about what they did do rather than what they didn't.
- meeta, a part of the audience
- Violence: Loads and loads of it. Murders, bombs, gun-fights, fist-fights and the whole lot.
- Language: Clean.
- Nudity & Sexual content: Skimpily clad women and cleavage. One scene with an obnoxious man trying to get Kareena Kapoor in bed with him. But not too explicit.
- Concept: Agent Vinod is chasing terrorist activity from around the world.
- General Look and Feel: Bright and slick.
Agent Vinod - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Website Facebook YouTube Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Eros Entertainment, Illuminati Films
- Producer: Saif Ali Khan, Dinesh Vijan
- Director: Sriram Raghavan
- Lead Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor
- Supporting Cast: Gulshan Grover, Ravi Kishan, Ram Kapoor, Ann Lee Roberts, Adil Hussain, Anshuman Singh, Prem Chopra, B P Singh, Rajat Kapoor, Maryam Zakaria
- Story: Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Archita Biswas Jha
- Cinematography: C K Muraleedharan
- Editor: Pooja Ladha Surti
- Action Choreography: Peter Hein, Parvez Khan
- Choreography: Saroj Khan
- Music Director: Pritam Chakraborty
- Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Nilesh Mishra
- Costume Designer: Manish Malhotra
- Art Direction: Boujamaa Rassourance
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 160 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Action
Agent Vinod - Trailer
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