Romeo Akbar Walter

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)

quick review:

A thriller that doesn’t get you anywhere close to the edge of the seat. Maybe because the hero gets stuff done too easily or perhaps the casting doesn’t allow you to think he could lose. This despite a decent attempt at twists.

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Director: Robby Grewal
Running time: 135 minutes
Genres: Action, Patriotism, War
More Movie Info

Romeo Akbar Walter - Preview

Other than the fact that the hero of the story appears in three avatars in the poster, the films promotional material has hardly anything unique going for it. Right up to Jackie Shroff playing the taskmaster. He even sounds like Boman Irani who has enacted several such roles himself.

Anyway, with the hope that films in this genre will trickle down after election season, will give this one as fair a shot as is possible. Meanwhile wondering, “how come off late India has been at the brink of war a little too often in films?”

Romeo Akbar Walter releases on 5 April 2019.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Even though Romeo Akbar Walter executes some bits in a half-interesting manner, it doesn’t remotely engage as one would expect a half-decent thriller to. Then, the well-executed parts aren’t good enough to make the uneven film watchable.

Other loopholes involve questions I cannot ask for fear of giving bits of the movie away.

For a first-time spy, it feels like Romeo (John Abraham) has favourable events served to him on a platter. The roadblocks seem perfunctory. Sure, there are a couple of twists, and they take you by surprise. But they aren’t enough to make the film a thriller.

A part of this is owing to the casting. Even a non-frequent Hindi film watcher knows that John Abraham gets through. He just doesn’t look like a person who will not be able to walk himself out of a soup. Not that the soup ever gets too thick here. It’s the same reason we have learnt not to expect too much from his performance. In such roles, it actually feels like he is doing a passable job because not much is required other than putting on a poker face. However, the romantic scenes give him away.

As far as the other actors go, Raghuvir Yadav is the only one who uses his character to bring in some variation in tone. Sikander Kher and Mouni Roy are believable, but I suspect that is because they have smaller roles. Jackie Shroff too has a monotonous expression. Like the actor who plays his sidekick, though this one is more stunned than grim.

Sure, there are the bits that Romeo Akbar Walter gets right. It does have a decent, slightly different training montage. The use of close-ups is interesting too. Even if they didn’t seem to be done with any particular purpose in mind. That they are not overdone works in the film’s favour because it creates visual variation without getting overbearing. Then there is this one sequence with a prayer playing in the background set to a non-standard mix of instruments. The music makes up for the fact that nothing interesting is happening visually. At other times though, the music is used as a cue for you to feel sad or tense or whatever. As if the makers knew the scenes are not strong enough by themselves to evoke emotion.

Yet, all things done well cannot work when there are logical gaps. Like the time when the hero puts himself in grave danger only to come out with information from a newspaper article! An article he could have read by buying a newspaper from a street vendor. Then there are photos being sent from Pakistan to India—photos a bystander could have taken because the people in them aren’t doing anything suspicious, neither are they trying to hide what they are doing. Other loopholes involve questions I cannot ask for fear of giving bits of the movie away.

It also doesn’t help that not only is the climax stretched out, it is also narrated rather than getting the audience involved in the thinking—the usual thriller cop-out.

the well-executed parts aren’t good enough to make the uneven film watchable.

Eventually, Romeo Akbar Walter ends up being a salute to unsung heroes whose names we will never know. Other films in this genre such as Raazi do a much better job in keeping the audience engaged. The ‘thrill’ is conspicuous by its absence.

- meeta, a part of the audience

32 reviewers(?) - 3 yays 16 so-so 13 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Thankfully, the film doesn't resort to any sort of jingoism. The enemy is shown to have a human face and John is shown to be actually feeling guilty about betraying a man who has done so much for him. There is a nice interaction between John's and Raghubir Yadav's character where they discuss the inner world of spies. The latter is a Pakistani and yet spies for India and develops a kinship with John.... full review

Thumbs up, by Joginder Tuteja, Planet Bollywood : ...All in all, Romeo Akbar Walter is a good film that definitely deserves a watch. It tells a story that is indeed intriguing and makes one appreciate how intelligence functions on both sides of the border with a constant cat and mouse game that must be definitely happening all around even till date.... full review

Thumbs up, by Gaurang Chauhan, Times Now : ...Overall, Romeo Akbar Walter is another interesting film from John Abraham. The movie has enough twists and turns to keep you intrigued and engaged. Go for it.... full review

So-So, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Romeo Akbar Walter is a film made with a lot of attention to detail. It is not melodramatic nor is it remotely jingoistic. If you love the espionage genre, you won't be disappointed. Just don't expect the high octane action you are accustomed to from Hollywood spy flicks. This one is more subtle and real.... full review

So-So, by Mayur Sanap, Deccan Chronicle : ...A good spy thriller has to have a plot that is plausible. That is something RAW lacks. With a very old-school esque tone and lacking on some mystery, this film is quite a forgettable affair. See it if you are a John Abraham fan, but if you want to see a haunting and exciting espionage thriller, select another.... full review

So-So, by Devansh Sharma, FirstPost : ...Needless to say, she realises the cost of war. She lost her husband in war and dies while waiting for her son's return from Pakistan. These stories deserve the spotlight more than ever before, given the tinderbox India is sitting on currently after the Pulwama attack. But RAW chooses to tell the other, more populist side of the story. Though that is completely the makers' choice, one wishes they would have not given up on nuance while translating the popular sentiment into a half-baked spy thriller.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Flimi Beat : ...Sadly, Robbie Grewal packs in too much of them without giving us sufficient time to connect with the characters and feel their emotions. I am going with 2.5 stars.... full review

So-So, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...The attempt to insert an emotive thread by showcasing Romeo’s attachment to his mother (Alka Amin) also feels like window dressing. The film lacks edge-of-the-seat tension and intrigue, feels rather unnecessarily protracted, and has an end-game that lacks conviction. Even the tone and texture is a little too even to generate interest. The chase sequence where three Pakistani army men pursue Akbar in the bylanes of Liaquatabad happens to be the only time when the tempo picks up a bit. Anil George has a significant role here as Isaq Afridi, and he makes the most of it but it’s John Abraham’s surprisingly tangible, intense and neatly rounded performance that more than makes up for all the negatives here!... full review

So-So, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...Oh ‘Baby’ John is ‘Raazi’ but Robbie isn't (dirty minds, stop taking this otherwise), what I mean in reality is; John Abraham is ready to go at lengths in RAW and he gives his best but the writer director Robbie Grewal is unwilling to give him the wings of a solid, taut and knock out script to make this spy fly high in the sky.... full review

So-So, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...John Abraham is sincere but is handicapped by his poorly-etched character. Mouni Roy and Alka Amin, as his girlfriend and mother, respectively, have nothing to do. Yadav is alright, and so is Anil George as Afridi. Two actors who act competently but are wasted after a long gap are Suchitra Krishnamoorthy as Rehana Kazmi, an Indian journalist, and Shaadab Amjad Khan as Afridi’s son. Sikandar Kher is just okay, his performance clichéd and on the borderline of hamming. The others just fit the bill.... full review

So-So, by Anita Iyer, khaleejtimes : ...Taking its own time to establish the characters, the film is sluggishly paced and may test your patience. Maybe smart editing could have made RAW an engaging watch.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Director Robby Grewal hopes to pay a cinematic ode to those selfless soldiers of war who give it their all, even with the knowledge that their efforts won’t be acknowledged.... full review

So-So, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, News18.com : ...The silver lining is that with a relatively more serious No Fathers in Kashmir as the only other release in theatres combined with the mood of the nation veering towards the patriotic, RAW, despite its flaws, could well have a smooth run.... full review

So-So, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...A bank cashier is recruited to spy for India, with several reasons to double cross. What could have been an action packed drama seems to be caught in a quagmire of stereotypes and predictability. It is so slow it fails to hold your attention despite a good premise.... full review

So-So, Outlook India : ...Some of the sequences are unexpectedly heartwarming. But I wish the film could have avoided the cliched depiction of Pakistan with paper green flags strung on threads across streets. Pakistan, as we all know, is a state of mind created to infuse an unreal level of patriotism in Indians. Given that volatile situation, 'RAW' reveals a remarkable restrain.... full review

So-So, by Urvi Parikh, Rediff : ...मूवी कई जगहों पर ‘रॉ’ यानि कि कच्ची लगती है, और सबको लगता है कि इस अधपकी कहानी को थोड़ा और पकाया जाना चाहिये था।... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...John Abraham’s opacity makes him a good fit for the spy who loves his mother and his land (there’s even a line to this effect in the movie). Abraham is backed up by Jackie Shroff, whose rumble seems to emerge from the bottom of a barrel of whiskey, and Sikandar Kher, who makes for a suitably sinister villain. The period detail in the production design (by Madhur Madhavan) and the richly textured colour-coded cinematography (by Tapan Basu) further fuel the conceit that something momentous is happening here. The deception stretches beyond Akbar and to the whole movie itself.... full review

So-So, by Troy Ribeiro, Sify Movies : ...At one stage, the film appears to be a documentary telling us about the birth of Bangladesh.... full review

So-So, by Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India : ...John Abraham, Sikander Kher and Jackie Shroff (who plays the head of RAW) give decent performances. Jackie’s sense of style stands out as always.... full review

Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...In all, RAW is a too casually made and a painfully long spy film that has its title as the most interesting feature to be honest. It’s also a supposedly researched thriller, wherein a Mazhabi (Devotional) Qawwali is being sung in an on-going party, a Maa song is inserted right in the middle of all the tension and in which the most competent police officer asks “How many fingers are there in your right hand…… and (then) left hand?” while interrogating a suspect through a lie-detector test.... full review

Thumbs down, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, ROMEO AKBAR WALTER fails to impress as it suffers from a flawed script as well as a weak and lengthy execution. At the box office, it will have an uphill task to register impressive numbers.... full review

Thumbs down, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Verdict: Toss a coin; do you want new Ra(w) or not-so-new Ra(azi!)... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Abraham swoops under the radar of every Urdu-speaking “enemy” who misconstrues his emotive numbness as a sign of unwavering loyalty. He transcends the mandatory Allah songs and taps back messages to his chief – a suave man who is busy shaping his own master-plan under the rule of Indira Gandhi.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...RAW begins with an extreme close-up of Romeo battered and bleeding. The opening sequence landed a solid punch and my hopes were raised. This material had the potential to be a suspenseful espionage drama. But the film is too drab to soar. I’m going with two stars.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...In the James Bond novels, there are pages where Bond reads a dossier. These are highly detailed pages, letting us know what Bond knows — before we turn to the action and thrills. Romeo Akbar Walter is all dossier, no thrill, and it’s a dossier read aloud by Jackie Shroff. Pity, really. No point in pouring a drink so dry it forgets it wanted to be a martini.... full review

Thumbs down, by Charu Thakur, india today : ...Romeo Akbar Walter tries hard to invoke a sense of patriotism but fails miserably. This weekend, do yourself a favour, skip this film and instead watch Sooryavansham on TV. It will soon be on one of those OTT platforms.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The film suffers from its length, and the pall of dullness that hangs over the proceedings. A spy needs to be a patriot. That’s why he does what he does, knowing that he is ‘deniable’. And the film closes with a shot of the flag and a salute, perfect fit for these hyper-nationalist times.... full review

Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Romeo Akbar Walter could have been a lot better than what it is now. The paper-thin plot, pretending to be a lot intelligent than what it is backed by a very lousy narration. Don’t fall for the patriotic trap!... full review

Thumbs down, by Sonil Dedhia, MiD DAY : ...Sikander Kher is the only one who has attempted to salvage the film. Jackie Shroff as the director of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) sails by. Abraham's deadpan expressions are a hindrance but he somehow manages to hold his ground. And Roy should stick to doing Naagin instead of a gratuitous role like this. As for RAW, YAW(n).... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...John Abraham has broad shoulders all right, but this ambitious film proves to be too much of a burden for him to carry. The lead actor is clearly under instruction to project an imperturbable, inscrutable veneer and stay within a limited emotional bandwidth, which obviates the need for him to strain his facial nerves. But, on the flip side, it gives him no chance to try and rise above the uninspiring script with some muscle-flexing. Mouni Roy, cast as the hero's colleague and beloved, pops up now and then in an eminently forgettable role. But both Jackie Shroff and Sikander Kher make an impression. The film doesn't, and it definitely isn't their fault.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...The supporting cast tries to do its best particularly Amin, who makes for the only effortless presence around. Sikander Kher as the Pakistani colonel tries hard at getting the diction right. It sounds great at first hear but becomes too much of a “show” beyond a point, the only peg that the performance appears to hang on. In the name of slickness there are extreme close-ups of Abraham’s eyes and open facial pores. But, even with that tight a reach the camera can’t catch any flicker of expression on his impassive visage.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rummana, yahoo! India : ...In sum, Robbie Grewal’s ‘Romeo Akbar Walter’ has an interesting premise, but falters in many aspects. Like everybody else, I too love a good spy thriller. This one, be warned, is an absolute letdown.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads, some of it gory too.
  • Language: A few abusive words
  • Nudity & Sexual content: One lip-to-lip, and one scene that implied the couple had sex
  • Concept: A RAW agent who is an undercover spy in Pakistan

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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