Reviewing the Reviews: Agent Vinod

26 Mar,2012

Agent Vinod

Key Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Ravi Kishan, Adil Hussain, Ram Kapoor and Prem Chopra, Special Appearance – Gulshan Grover

Directed By: Sriram Raghavan

Produced By: Saif Ali Khan & Dinesh Vijan


Of late, it has been seen that more often than not critics are united in their praise or pan of a film. It used to be rare to get such a consensus but Agent Vinod has done it again. Except for one 4 star and one 4, the highest rating the film has received is 2.5.


Opinion of reviewers as well as the public match in that the film’s plot does not match its high production values. Sriram Raghavan had acquired a kind of following after Ek Haseena Thi and Johnny Gaddar, which is why expectations from the film were high. The jokes are already out, a few of them calling it ‘Travel Agent Vinod’ taking potshots at the fact that it was shot on several foreign locations.


Hindustan Times’s Anupama Chopra gave it 2.5 stars and wrote, “Agent Vinod is also attempting to be too many things – a slick thriller to match Hollywood but also a cheeky homage to cheesy Bollywood movies. So the film has gloss and fast-paced action but the villains are a throwback to the 1980s – after all, how seriously can you take Gulshan Grover in a white suit or Prem Chopra with a ponytail or Shahbaz Khan with one glass eye? The result is that Agent Vinod never becomes more than the sum of its parts and even though it picks up speed in the second half, it leaves you both exhausted and unsatisfied. But I enjoyed the character of Agent Vinod. If he does get a sequel, I hope he has a better narrative to romp in.”


Akanksha Naval Shetye’s DNA review, one of the few 3 stars goes, “On the downside, what doesn’t work is the weak plot and it is that weak chink in the armour that fails to hold all the strong elements together that could make it a riveting watch. The script should’ve been crisper, to do justice to its ambitious, high production value. With predictable twists and forced uncomplicated sub-plots and not so required elements and characters, you know it’s time to send logic out early on and you see yourself lose interest at some points. The stereotypical characters fail to make it interesting too.”


Raja Sen writing in was left cold too and went with 2.5. “The essential problem lies in the characterisation of Saif Ali Khan’s titular protagonist, an unconvincing secret agent suffering from mood swings, saucy and wink-filled in one shot, dour and stony in the next. He’s both nonsense and no-nonsense, a flawless leading man morally incapable of doing wrong and sartorially incapable of a hair out of place. So cool for school is he, for example, that even when drugged and being slapped around with his head shoved in a pool, his white shirt stays firmly tucked into his trousers. So much of the film is sadly compromised by making the leads look good – but perhaps that’s the price we pay for actor-producers.”


Writing in Mid-day, Shaheen Parkar sticks with 2.5 too. “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.”


Sonia Chopra of also gave it 2.5. “A story traversing multiple locations can be fun, if it can avoid getting convoluted. But this film overstays its invite. All spy thrillers find their inspiration in the James Bond series. Most recent Bond films have had less plot; more style. But they get away with it, because the brand is so established. But an Agent Vinod is a rookie in that respect and needs solid support.”


Rajeev Masand of ibnlive, who is usually kind, gave Agent Vinod 2 stars. “For a large portion of Agent Vinod, you don’t know where things are going… and then it all stretches on so needlessly that you stop caring. Given that this is a film that sees itself as a desi-style Bond, it has glaring loopholes that are embarrassing. Like a tacky scene in which Vinod spots a familiar scorpion tattoo on a doctor’s wrist that helps him deduce that he’s actually an assassin. Or the ridiculous pre-climax portion in which a grievously injured character is gasping out a password to our hero, as he frantically tries to disarm a bomb while flying a helicopter.”


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express also went with 2, writing, “There’s nothing to warn us that we are in for strictly bits-and-pieces of fun. But that is the film’s trajectory, split between speeding and slowing down to re-create familiar scenes. This results in a repetitive loop : fast-paced Bond-style bang-bangs interspersed with two good-looking spies criss-crossing each other, as corpses pile up. It doesn’t help that the plot is overly busy, scurrying from one point to another, and going on and on, much after the story is over. Even the camp is not high enough, and some of the humour is clunky.”


Mumbai Mirror’s Karan Anshuman matched the majority with a 2.5. “In between the mayhem you’ve bomb-carrying helicopters, the Trans-Siberian Express, Russian mafia, Indian industrialists, Afghan warlords, gay flight pursers, Moroccan camels, Pakistani generals … and one man to sort it all out. Agent Vinod is the kind of film with a lot of breadth, but very little depth. The sentimental bits especially, islands on their own, just don’t cut it.”


The Times of India, always rates a film higher than the rest and very rarely goes below 3 stars, which is hardly a compliment to a film. Madhureeta Mukherjee writes, “Director Sriram Raghavan, who’s made fine mind-twisters (Ek Haseena Thi, Johnny Gaddaar), attempts a spy-thriller this time. His obsession for retro reflects here again, whether it’s casting Prem Chopra and Gulshan Grover, references to classics, or infusing soundtracks from the bygone era. Aaah! Nostalgia! Agent Vinod is slick and visually stylized, but loses steam at times. The movie is a tad long and often creatively compromised – for style over substance. With well-designed stunts and car chases, there are very few high points or shock value. One being the background score (Daniel B George) that changes beautifully with the locations. Otherwise, Agent Vinod is cool. But not steamy enough to win a license to thrill.”’s high 4-star rating by Taran Adarsh goes with the comment, “A hi-octane espionage thriller with a heart. It is not just brawny and dynamic, but witty and crazy too. Ultra slick and stylish, this desi Bond movie adheres to the formula and succeeds in meeting the humungous expectations.”


The lowest 1-star rating is by yahoo’s Kunal Guha, who quips, “The best way to defuse a bum is through butt crunches. Unless one is referring to the Hinglisized word for a bomb. And the much-awaited dhamaka that this thriller hoped to detonate at the box office might just be defused once you read this review. Despite miraculous leaps in production values, spy thrillers in Bollywood end up looking like Chinese equivalents of western products. And here, the characters are even stereotyped to the extent of detectives wearing trench coats and moles being obvious, shifty-eyed and literally uncomfortable in their own skin. So let’s just say foreign locales, weapons to annihilate the world, designer suits and not-so-excruciating interrogations don’t cumulatively justify Agent Vinod as a thrilling movie-watching experience.”


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