Saif Ali Khan might have gone blue in the face denying the speculations that his 'Vinod' is similar to iconic British spy James Bond, but half an hour in the movie and you start expecting the desi spy to order a 'vodka martini-shaken, not stirred'. The movie also starts in the same vein as all other Bond movies-with an action packed sequence, which introduces the protagonist, followed by the opening credits
Sriram Raghavan has sure given two edge of the seat thrillers in the past with 'Ek Hasina Thi' and 'Johnny Gaddar' but his latest offering 'Agent Vinod' tends to fall a tad short of the mark, though the movie is definitely worth a watch due to its exotic locales and mind blowing action.
Saif Ali Khan plays a RAW agent named Vinod, complete with a gruff but paternal boss a'la 'M' and a secretary like Miss Moneypenny, who our agent flirts with harmlessly while on his way to the boss's cabin. After Vinod's colleague and friend Rajan (Ravi Kissen) gets killed while working undercover for a Russia based gang led by Abu Nisar (Ram Kapoor), the intrepid Vinod sets off to investigate the murder and to find out what '242' (a secret code number revealed by Rajan minutes before dying) means.
The investigation sets off Vinod on a globe-trotting mission from Eastern Europe to Morocco to Pakistan to Delhi, where the RAW agent meets up an interesting mix of characters from Kazan (Prem Chopra), a shady businessman, Ruby Mendes (Kareena Kapoor), a mysterious Pakistani doctor with a dark past to a rogue Pakistani colonel (Shahbaaz Khan) in cahoots with some nefarious characters hell-bent on perpetrating a nuclear tragedy.
The rest of the film follows Vinod as he kicks and punches his way through the bad guys to avert a nuclear disaster right in the heart of New Delhi. A mysterious bad man is carrying a rucksack filled with a nuclear device in the capital city and our hero must race against time to identify and stop him before it is too late. Now, we all have seen George Clooney do that as Colonel Thomas Devoe in 'The Peacemaker' and the last one hour of the movie is sure to bring back memories of the Clooney-Nicole Kidman flick.
The noticeable difference between Vinod and Bond seems to be the fact that the former doesn't bed a couple of women in the film (maybe because our Vinod is supposed to be the true Indian hero with traditional values). Indeed, the cool spy falls for Kareena's character and also proposes marriage in the middle of a gun fight.
Moreover, the plot moves from country to country with such immense speed that the viewer is bound to get disoriented at some point of time. Vinod battles bearded 'jihadis' in Afghanistan and minutes later is slaughtering the bodyguards of a Russian arms dealer in a posh club in Riga before landing in Morocco to pursue another lead.
However, credit is due to the background score and also to Raghavan's directorial genius as he tips his hat to everyone from Bud Spencer to the original 'Agent Vinod' actor Mahendra Sandhu to spaghetti Western 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly'. The cinematography also deserves a special mention and so do the supporting cast of actors like Prem Chopra, Ram Kapoor, Ravi Kissen, Zakir Hussain and Adil Hussain, who manage their parts well. Kareena Kapoor doesn't really get to do much in the movie as it is Saif who dominates almost every frame, though at times, he seems confused between playing the wise-cracking cool spy and the no-nonsense, serious government official who doesn't have time to stop and smell the roses.
However, all said and done, 'Agent Vinod' is definitely worth a watch for all the thrill junkies out there, who have been waiting for a slick Sriram Raghavan product... A word of caution though-Don't expect the delicious thrills of an 'Ek Hasina Thi' or 'Johnny Gaddar' here...