Friday, April 6, 2012

Agent Vinod (2012): A decent spy flick, but nothing spectacular

It felt like eons since I’d seen Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu when I went out again to see Agent Vinod. On top of that, I delayed seeing it for several days as family and sickness got in the way. It also feels like eons since I've posted a review here.

Synopsis (kept very brief/basic to avoid spoiling):
RAW super Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) is tasked with finding and stopping a former Cold War Soviet nuclear bomb that’s been put up for auction. In the process, he encounters Doctor Ruby Mendes/Iram Parveen Bilal (Kareena Kapoor), who at times works with him, at times against him — a recipe, of course, for love.

Basically, Agent Vinod is your typical James Bond-style shoot ’em up movie with Indian flare.

Overall, I thought the movie was a good one-time watch, but probably not something I’d care to watch again multiple times. My cousin who went with me (the one who’s newly introduced to Bollywood) really enjoyed it, though.

What I liked:
  • The movie is fast-paced.
  • Lots of good shooting and blowing-things-up scenes.
  • It has several conspiracy-y elements and layers. I love a good conspiracy.
  • Saif was not contrived, which I feared he would be. He actually fit the role pretty well.
  • Saif didn’t have to dance! (Except in the end-credits song, which was hilarious.)
  • Music. Was pretty decent.
  • Hilarious moments. I love moments of levity in a movie of gravity.

What I didn’t like:
  • Plot holes or just head-shaking moments — like how does this backpack-sized Soviet bomb still exist and why is it just coming out now, 20 years later?
  • Foreign locales are a must for spy films. But an endless stream of them (Morocco, Russia, Latvia, the U.K., South Africa, Pakistan) is just too much.
  • No sexy cars. Take it from someone who knows Camaros (I own a 2002 SS): Even the supposed Bumblebee Camaro in the movie poster is not that sexy. It’s the 6-cylinder LT version — not an actual Bumblebee SS. Look for the intake break in the hood that marks a Z28/SS or the SS grill emblem and you won’t find either.
  • This movie would not end. It could easily end about 75 percent of the way through, if things were done properly. Instead it draaaaaaaaaaaaaags out.
  • For an onscreen version of an actual engaged couple, there was very little chemistry going on. I know I should never be surprised when there’s no kiss in a Bollywood film, but with these two...really?
  • Kareena was actually fairly flat <- amazing, I know. And her “Pakistani” accent was pretty bad.
  • Spy movies usually like to give us a bit of insight into the man behind the spy. I don’t know that we ever even get the real name of “Agent Vinod.” Though, yes, we do get a lovely moment in which he explains that after a teenage experience where he saved lives by holding a rope for hours, he has always had to live “in that place between life and death.”
  • Complete lack of subtitles on the non-Hindi dialogue (dialogue in French, Arabic and Russian was uncaptioned).

Other notes:

I can see why this movie was banned in Pakistan. Other than Iram and a guy who gets killed, Pakistan is pretty much all bad in this film. I’ve said before that considering the way India treats Pakistan in film is always fascinating.

Kareena is a terrible mujra dancer. Whether by design or not, I do not know.

I think for the first time ever, Saif was my favorite actor in a film. This is a somewhat baffling thought. (I don’t dislike him by any means. See: his brilliant performance in Omkara. He’s just...not my favorite, generally.)

Sum total, Agent Vinod was good enough in its genre but nothing spectacular.


  1. I think nowadays it's allowed to be surprised when there's no kissing in an Indian film, when it really feels like there should be. Dhoom:2 was the starter for that, and I think it's just too prude not to include kissing, especially in action films.

    1. I don't know that I'm necessarily surprised there was no kiss in the movie — I'm surprised there was no kiss with them. I mean, supposedly they're engaged. They've been together since like 2007. You know they do a lot more than kissing! lol. And you know they're both okay with kissing onscreen. Kareena kissed Shahid Kapoor in films when she was with him. Saif was all over Deepika in Love Aaj Kal. So... what's the problem with a kiss in this movie?

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