There is something about spy movies that makes them stand apart from other action thrillers. If made well with the right mix of realism and entertainment, they can really impress in a big way. Make them stick to sheer reality and they could turn dry; make them out and out fictional and they could turn way too filmy. Strike the right kind of balance and they may turn a bit niche, but then at least they stay true to the genre.
That’s what Robbie Grewal directed Romeo Akbar Walter turns out to be. It is niche for sure but not offbeat, which means one can’t expect an out and out massy crowd to be patronising it in a big way big but serves well when it comes to the target audience.
The film acts more as a dramatic rather an action thriller. As a result, the film needs an attentive and patient watch right through its narrative. Miss a scene or two and a crucial detail may just go unnoticed, only to make you wonder at a later point if there is more to what meets the eye. This also means that as a viewer, you can’t expect a simplistic narrative that feeds to the senses. Also, there is no ‘Dilbar’ moment in there that would pop out of somewhere so that you could cherish and relish your popcorn and cola.
The film is a John Abraham starrer who is Romeo, a banker, planted as Akbar by RAW Chief Jackie Shroff into Pakistan. He gets into the good books of top arms dealer Anil George and soon begins to pass back intelligence with the help of trusted aide Raghubir Yadav and another mysterious spy who goes by the name of Joker. The good part is that Pakistanis are not shown to be jokers and hence Sikandar Kher, who plays a Colonel, gets on the trail of John while being fully convinced that he is a mole out there to trouble Pakistan in the troubled times of 1971 when East Pakistan wanted to get separated.
The film has a complicated plot line but Robbie keeps it simple, though intelligent enough so that as a viewer you are invested in the storyline. The best part is a ‘kaante ki takkar’ between the two intelligence bodies across the border, hence making it a cat and mouse game. There is a bigger picture being conveyed in the story that moves forward, something that you realise far more strongly when the film reaches its culmination.
This is what makes the film special because the first 45 minutes go into the build up that moves a bit slow. Also, there is a mother-son angle and also a romantic angle that doesn’t work at all, especially with the songs that could have been totally eliminated. This is the reason why the film comes on its own, especially in the last 30 minutes when the drama reached its culmination. The best is reserved for the last 10 minutes when there are multiple twists and revelations that make you nod in approval.
The film has John Abraham playing his part quite well, and when his characterisation of Walter is revealed then you are all the more excited. Jackie Shroff gets into a truly meaty avtar after a really long time and one is impressed to see him in a debonair mode with a baritone in his voice. Sikandar Kher is very good and after this film he would be hopefully seen in many more interesting films. Anil George is real and lends a fatherly feel. Mouni Roy has a small but important role and she does well.
Technically too the film is good with cinematography, set design and background score as the highlights. If the film had better pace in the first 45 minutes then it would have only helped the cause further.
All in all, Romeo Akbar Walter is a good film that definitely deserves a watch. It tells a story that is indeed intriguing and makes one appreciate how intelligence functions on both sides of the border with a constant cat and mouse game that must be definitely happening all around even till date.