What could have been a crisp, quick, gripping suspense turned out to be a dull lifeless drag… Debutant director Robbie Grewal, you owe me 150 minutes of my life back!
Rating – 2 / 5 ⭐️⭐️
Spy thrillers set in an Indo-Pakistan setting are seriously soul food. From Neeraj Pandey’s Baby to Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi – we came, we saw, we loved! But looking at our film of the hour, Romeo Akbar Walter, which left us with nothing but drowsy eyes and a bagful of yawns, Robbie Grewal and John Abraham’s director-actor duo failed (and how) to put the thrill in this so-called thriller and merely delivered three identities with zero acting and a million things gone wrong!
Set in 1971, when the tension between India-Pakistan was at its peak, the film revolves around Romeo aka Rehmetullah Ali (John Abraham), a humdrum bank employee with a knack for disguise, who is hired by the director of R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing), Srikant Rai (Jackie Shroff) to go undercover as a Pakistani named Akbar in order to gather as much information as possible to protect his country.
“Jung jeeti ya haari jaati hai sirf ek cheez ke basis par… information!”
Despite having a decent story to tell, there was absolutely no thought put into the execution! To begin with, NO character development – had director Grewal borrowed a few minutes to just build on Romeo’s personality, more than half of the film’s flaws would be corrected. By simply throwing in new faces onto the screen without defining their roles, it was impossible for the audience to connect with any of the characters, immediately making the entire film experience bland and lethargic. And John’s oh-so-stiff performance doesn’t make it any easier!
Our hero, their spy, John Abraham was exactly how we last left him – high, dry and desperately in need of some expressions! To be fair, his mundane inexpressive look definitely worked for his role as Akbar at certain points, however, what I found majorly missing was that jingoism, essential for Hindustani on a country-before-self kind of mission. But I’m still trying to figure out what Mouni Roy’s purpose in this film was? Apart from being Romeo’s totally unnecessary love interest, was there really a need to stretch their failing romance (and bland chemistry) almost until the end only to leave it hanging mid-air.
Besides the already-mentioned flaws, Jackie Shroff too looked drained and worn out – he delivered his dialogues and actions, which was supposed to form a crucial part of the overall content, in a lackluster dreary manner that totally beat the purpose. Sikander Kher, to my surprise, was a refreshing spark of hope as an ISI officer Khudabaksh Khan. His stern looks, confident acting and broad shoulders made him the right choice for the negative role.
An annoyingly slow first half followed by an even slower second is pretty much all this film has to offer (not to forget, some C-grade spy stuff). Right when you decide to forgive the makers and force yourself to focus, it only gets worse – quite misleading for those who tend to walk out in the interval. That being said, displaced songs, elongated chase scenes and Mouni Roy don’t make this one an easy watch!
My expert opinion – skip this one. Save yourselves the time, money and mental persuasion required to sit through 150 minutes of nothingness. And for all you hardcore John Abraham fans out there, you’re better off just watching Dhoom or Dostana again!
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