John Abraham in the poster of 'Romeo Akbar Walter'(via Twitter/@johnabraham) Photograph:( WION Web Team )
Directed by Robbie Grewal, the film sets out to be an espionage thriller. The story is set in 1971 a little before India and Pakistan went on war and Bangladesh was created.
It is a template that Akshay Kumar very ably set a few years back. Films made on the lines of nationalism, where the lead protagonist gets ample opportunity to prove his love for his motherland. Films like 'Holiday', 'Rustom'and 'Baby', Akshay Kumar soon became the new 'Bharat Kumar' of the country. Over the years, as Kumar has moved to more social -issue-based films, this template has been taken over by John Abraham.
The past few releases of the actor have had him playing characters who are always more than eager to prove their love for the nations. He can be a scientist, a cop or a spy- all the characters have more or less the same structure. His latest, 'Romeo Akbar Walter' also falls into the same category.
Directed by Robbie Grewal, the film sets out to be an espionage thriller. The story is set in 1971 a little before India and Pakistan went on war and Bangladesh was created. The same backdrop was used in 2018's hit, Meghna Gulzar's spy thriller 'Raazi'. But unlike Gulzar's film, which was taut and gripping till the end, Abraham's latest falters and is not even half as exciting.
Sure, the film has few sharp moments, some very interesting twists and some credible performances from actors like Raghuveer Yadav and Sikander Kher (who gets the accent of a Punjabi ISI officer quite accurately) but ultimately the film suffers because of outright ridiculous cliches that have now become a norm in every spy film in this country. And while Jackie Shroff who plays RAW chief categorically mentions to Abraham at the beginning of the film that how he would need to read in between the lines, the narrative overexerts itself explaining minutest of the things. There are plenty of loopholes in the plot, with scenes lacking logic (the way Abraham is selected for the mission is outright ridiculous). Dialogues are spruced with 'Watan, Desh and Mitti' and there are also montages of the moments shared with a family member for the emotional quotient but instead of evoking any kind of emotions, it evokes headaches at the cliches that are far too many.
I'd be okay with that too if the film itself was edgy. But unlike how spy thrillers should be this one is long and tedious after a point of time with Abraham and the film's leading lady Mouni Roy appearing extremely wooden. The two literally do not make any effort at emoting. Be it discussing a grave bombing that can finish an entire village, or while professing love- the two have blank expressions throughout. Perhaps, they didn't want to tire their facial muscles too much.
'Romeo Akbar Walter' could have been an engaging watch but it simply lacks the thrill. It doesn't evoke any sense of pride or emotions, it induces sleep instead.