Not Engrossing Enough
By MovieTalkies.com, 26 July 2008
After last year's Shootout At Lokhandwala, where he took a hard, gritty look at the underworld and encounters, director Apoorva Lakhia now turns his focus on terrorism. His intentions are absolutely great but there is just a slight issue with his latest film, Mission Istaanbul. The film has been well shot, the action scenes, which form the film's main fare, are quite stunning, but the film seems to lack an emotional core. There is no emotional underpinning to all the mayhem that is happening in the movie. Sure, he has characters, who have personal lives, but somehow, his characters do not seem to have any kind of an emotional core.
Quite unlike his earlier Shootout At Lokhandwala, where one can still recall the emotions on the face of Maya Dola's mother played by Amrita Singh, during the Shootout. There were many such instances in that film. But Mission Istaanbul seems to have nothing to do with emotion. It is only about action, from the word go. So action lovers should enjoy all the stunts in the film. But the over emphasis on action just ends up making the film lop sided. Also, the story of the film is like any typical Hindi film, hardly credible, with the two main protagonists of the film, actually ending up destroying the entire terrorist network, singlehandedly. So, yes, this film also calls for suspending one's rational capacities.
The film's story, in short, is about a top notch journalist, Vikas Sagar (Zayed Khan, all beefed up, with spectacles and all to give a serious look) who takes a break from his life and marriage in India to another journo, Anjali (Shreya Saran), and accepts an offer from a television channel based in Istaanbul, called Al Johara (based on the infamous Al Jazeera, it seems). It is headed by a man called Owais (Suniel Shetty), who is all too soon bumped off. The channel is actually a front for terrorist activities around the world. Vikas realizes that he is next on the line of fire when he meets up with a Turkish commando called Rizwan (Vivek Oberoi). Vikas and Rizwan then join forces and take on the might of the terrorists along with an Indian uncover agent, played by Shweta Bharadwaj. Apparently, the channel is responsible for all the terrorist activities, under the ownership of Nikitin Dheer, who plays a media baron.
The first half of the film moves at quite a frenetic pace, with events happening very fast. The director literally zips through this half. The script unfolds fast, but with the result that a lot of the characters are not very well developed. One of them is the character of a terrorist played by Shabbir Aluwalia. The actor hardly has any scope to perform because of the poor fashion in which his role has been written. The first half establishes the characters and the premise of the plot. But in the second half, all we see is action, violence, chases etc. It seems as if the director has substituted his story for action. This is the half when the two protagonists take on the might of the terrorists and demolish them.
But yes, the action is of top notch quality, no two ways about that. In fact, Lakhia really excels in his execution of these scenes, which are the hallmark of the film. Both the film's heroes, Vivek and Zayed do a very good job in this part of the movie. The cinematography of the film by Gururaj RJ is also of top quality. There are excellent shots of Istaanbul in the film. The film's music, which has been given by a motley band of composers, is fast paced and racy, like the film itself. The Abhishek Bachchan item number rocks, but it is not enough to salvage the film.
As for the actors, they excel in the action department, but one can't quite say the same for their acting. One expected a lot more from Vivek Oberoi, who is known to be an explosive actor. But he probably did not have much scope in the film, to act and emote. Zayed appears in a new avatar as the beefed up journalist. But acting is not exactly his forte. But he too is excellent in the action sequences. Suniel Shetty is competent as usual. Nikitin Dheer does a very good job and stands out. Of the girls, Shweta Bhardwaj and Shreya Saran are good enough.
But having said all of that, one comes away from the film, without carrying any enduring moment, anything which moves, touches or remains with one. The director has done a great job in handling the action and in the pace at which the action unfolds. But he fails in the story department. The additions of a George Bush look alike and the Bin Laden look alike do not add any credibility to the film. The flawed second half proves to be the film's undoing. Hence this mission fails to engross.