Agent Vinod - Our verdict
Dir: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Prem Chopra
Rating: **1/2 stars (Out of 5)
What's it about: There's a cool dude RAW agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) who is on a mission to diffuse a bomb that will kill millions. His job zips him across some exotic as well as dreary places on the world map with an assortment of characters thrown along the way. These include arms dealers, pimps, drug barons, business magnates and intelligence officers. There's a particularly pesky Moroccon don David Kazan (Prem Chopra) high on the Agent's list to tackle as well as his aide, a doctor-cum-spy Ruby (Kareena Kapoor) who is actually Erum, a Pakistani, with an agenda of her own. When Vinod is not chasing clues or pulling the trigger, he is happily spewing Smart Alec one-liners at an unsuspecting Ruby. Till he succeeds in his mission, she has to play the game with him.
What's hot: The film starts on a promising note in a desert in Afghanistan. Agent Vinod's escape to freedom is captured extremely well as well as several sequences throughout the film especially the filming of Agent and Ruby's escape from the hotel after they realise they have just lost a vital clue. Also look out for the Agent's memory inducing scene when he rattles off names of Bollywood characters to save his skin. It's fun. Saif puts in an earnest effort in his role though at times Kareena does seems a tad disinterested no wonder she has proclaimed she would rather shun action flicks.
What's not: Though there is an earnest attempt to make a thriller considering that the director (Sriram Raghavan) is known for this genre of films - Ek Hasina Thi and Johnny Gaddar --- this time the makers have tried to make a masala thriller stirring in too many ingredients making it difficult to digest. Its long running time (over two and a half hours) proves tedious for the viewer. Instead of incorporating item numbers, there should have been more focus only on the agent's mission. Also, the plot criss-crosses from Afghanistan to Morocco to Russia and even Somalia, but just everyone either knows Hindi or understands it. If only the locals in the various destinations of Agent Vinod spoke in the local languages (with subtitles) would have lend more credence to the plot. The Agent's every move is explained leaving little suspense for the viewer, as by then you know the end.
What's that? Ruby aka Erum is a spy, out to avenge what's wrong but she won't kill! One of the characters a flight pursuer called Freddy Khambatta is caricatured to be gay (inspired by Freddy Mercury perhaps!) while the rest too are stereotyped to fit the baddie mould. Look out for the small screen's Mr Kapoor (Ram Kapoor) as Abu, a Bud Spencer avatar gone wicked! Also, the Agent may be a cool dude, who can stare death in his face, but his last wish is either to drink some bubbly or whisper sweet nothings over the phone to the lady he is attracted to!
What to do: During the screening for the media, Saif stepped into the auditorium during the interval to say that if you have sat through the first-half, you will surely sit through the second half as there was lots more! Hope the audience does too. But that apart there are those moments to make Agent Vinod a one-time watch.