For a film to have technical glitches and inadequacies that are so blatant that even the naivest of audiences find them obvious, is an embarrassment difficult to conceal. To say this about Sriram Raghavan (Ek Hasina Thi, Johnny Gaddar), who has entertained us well in the past if not enthralled, might come as a surprise. However, as far as his Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) is concerned, that is the inconvenient truth. If you cast aside all the glamour, explosions and pseudo- spyishness, what form the crux of this film is a directionless story that takes a man trying to be cool through scenic location in the hunt of reasons for the murder of his colleague. And as Lady Luck would have it, he just happens to stumble upon a ravishing spy of the opposite sex, Dr. Ruby Mendes (Kareena Kapoor), on his way.
You know how a story in most action films is a vessel whose only onus to carry the action sequences through? This vessel has a massive hole in it. I'll forgive the fact that it is all too generic, for the moment. There is a book with a detonator in it, which is sought after by most of the world's leading terrorist organisations. Someone noble and good-of- heart must get it. The only person who can do this and save the blighty people is an unshaven, frog-eyed man, who has a penchant for dancing in front of hidden cameras - Vinod, that is. Apparently, simple enough. But in the hands of Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Biswas (the script writers) the story turns into a convoluted mess that resembles the remains of a dog that has been run over by a speeding battle-tank. Twice.
Saif plays the role of the almighty redeemer for the film. He isn't as bumptious as spies and anti-heroes (casts a furtive glance at another member of the Khan bastion) usually are. The man himself is not larger than life and without the overbearing fungus smeared so generously on his face he even manages to look strangely human. The sins that he must pay for are those committed by the accompanying-cast. There isn't a clear nemesis for Vinod; instead, he gets half a dozen flies to ward off. The characters are shoddily constructed - no defining traits, no vile idiosyncrasies, nothing to remember them by. The actors don't bring much to the table, either. The movie is a playfield for those blighty souls who never got a chance to make it big in the industry. And, as as the movie illustrates so magnificently, there is a reason for that.
Agent Vinod proudly pontificates the fact that it is an action film. It tries to masquerade as one and its attempts lead to desperation. It is out of this desperation, or so I am forced to believe, that the director did things that one absolutely should not while shooting action films. The movie does not get your adrenaline pumping, while the supposed high- octane sequences are contrived. Too many shots are vying for screen-time at the same time, resulting in a metaphorical train-wreck, further exacerbated by shoddy editing. Judging by the way the camera leapfrogs from wall-to-wall makes one conclude that the cameraman is most certainly suffering from febrile convulsions. And yeah, just in case all of that was not enough, there is also a longer-than-necessary scene shot entirely upside-down for no fathomable reason.
Once the films runs out of things to do, it decides to do the things it has already done all over again. This goes on for over one hundred and fifty-minutes, which is far too long for an action movie by any stretch of imagination. Vinod travels to another country, meets a few foreigner baddies, there's more kiss kiss bang bang, a few explosions, a dozen dead blokes and the good guy saves the day. Just when that starts getting onto your nerves, following the precedent set by her fair- skinned mango-juice-loving counterpart, Kareena does a lacklustre mujra. Saif, then, tries to outdo her in another jig of his own. And succeeds. Someone's going to go hungry for a week for stealing the spotlight from his soon-to-be wife.
With the film managing to get its act together only on rare occasions, the ending could have come sooner. It definitely should have. With a Captain America-esque touch to it, the film drops into a gradual denouement. Or so it seems to, before lasting another twenty minutes and then crossing the finish line; rather tumbling over it. The movie is like a bad sexual experience, and the end justifies the statement - tiring, unsatisfying, but leaves you grateful that it has ended. Alas, when you are halfway into the film, the only things that stick out are the amateurishly shot action sequences, jarring editing and Kareena's unattended body fat. And that's the better half.