The ApunKaChoice movie review of Agent Vinod. A little suspension of disbelief is warranted if you want to enjoy Agent Vinod, starring Saif Ali Khan as a suave, trigger-happy RAW agent who pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. To that allowance, add a little disorientation on the part of those who can’t tell Latvia from Somalia, or Morocco from Afghanistan. This country-hopper of a thriller can make you feel dazed in a maze starting from a terrorist den in the Afghan ‘Desert of Death’ (Dasht-e-Margoh) and ending at a family restaurant in Connaught Place in Delhi.
All through this circuitous route through three continents and half a dozen countries, the RAW killing machine Agent Vinod leaves a bloody trail of dead bodies while doggedly hunting down a loose nuke, a dirty suitcase bomb that can kill millions and spark off a nuclear war between two unfriendly neighbours (read India and Pakistan). A hellish scenario in one’s worst nightmare, but very much a possibility for those who want to make a Nagasaki of New Delhi or wreak havoc at international stock markets. Yes, the stock market. To elaborate on how the nukes could help reap windfall at the bourses would be giving away too much of suspense, but be at the ready to suspend your disbelief when the suspense unravels at the end of this roller coaster of an actioner.
Having said that, Agent Vinod is the sleekest thing to have happened to Bollywood in a long while. It’s a thriller with an insolent cheek and a mocking tongue firmly in it. It is pulpy, gross, funny, irreverent, slick and not without loads of oomph pumped in by a pumped-up Saif Ali Khan. At 41, the actor does stretch his limbs to their limit. We see him somersault through trap doors, jump off the flyovers, crash at the windshields, bash a score of baddies singlehandedly, and…ahem ahem (read disbelief)…even fly a chopper. It’s Saif’s slog as much as his performance that calls for a clap.
Kareena Kapoor plays a Pakistani agent whose intentions remain obscure throughout the film, whether she is playing a doc to an elderly Moroccan baron (Prem Chopra) or siding with a shady character named Colonel (Adil Hussain in a terrific performance). What’s she in it for? the question weighs heavy and is never answered, but for the fact that she wants to get out of whatever she’s in! Confused? That makes two of us.
Thankfully, director Sriram Raghavan doesn’t make his spy a clown of either Bond or Bourne. For one, this spy doesn’t smoke or drink or serenade hotties to bed. In one scene, when a pretty Russian chick suggestively invites him over for coffee as he blithely drives her home after pumping bullets into a crimelord (Ram Kapoor), he almost lets a coy grin and waxes: “I’ve got a flight to catch”. This apart, Raghavan executes a certain sequences with flourish that calls for one to sit up and take note. For instance, a single-shot shootout scene in a Latvian hotel is the best choreographed sequence of Agent Vinod. Enacted against a lilting score, it’s a stupendous work of cinematography and action, almost poetic in its killings.
As for the anti-Pakistan slant, there’s a Pak army officer (Shahbaz Khan) with visceral hatred for India and a bone to pick with ISI chief (Rajat Kapoor). And there’s also an Interpol’s most-wanted criminal (Gulshan Grover) residing in Karachi under state protection. The two are instrumental in smuggling the dirty bomb to India as the nuke makes its long journey from a Russian grave to Latvia and to Somalia.
It’s a surefire cobweb of geography and a menagerie of multi-national characters in Agent Vinod. Though a tad confusing at times, you don’t mind it because the movie moves at a brisk pace with incredibly well choreographed action sequences by Peter Heines and equally well shot by cinematographer Muraleedharan. And, to added relief, the music and songs (by Pritam) don’t play spoilsport. They only add to the fun.
My suggestion: Watch Agent Vinod for its slick action and its charming leading man Saif Ali Khan.