By Hindustan Times
Sriram Raghavan’s Saif-Kareena starrer is brilliant in bits, and incredibly asinine in others. Saif and Kareena's performance doesn't impress much, there was little that the supporting cast could do to save the day, feel critics.
Critics feel the film is brilliant in parts, but fails to impress in entirety. "Agent Vinod is Sriram Raghavan’s ode to the spy genre, his continued love affair with ‘70’s Hindi cinema, and a genuine attempt at entertaining in a sensible manner. But it just doesn’t work. It’s not campy enough to be fun, not intelligent enough to be taken seriously, and not entertaining enough to override the first two points. It has flashes of brilliance, yes. Raghavan had the right idea, it seems, and a great choice for the lead role in Saif Ali Khan. But somewhere, there seemes to have been a slip between the script and the film," feels Aniruddha Guha, DNA.
What went wrong
Concurs Raja Sen, Rediff, "If only Agent Vinod were a video game. It has all the hallmarks of a classic: from explosive wall-to-wall action to various levels of globetrotting mayhem, from challenging moments of hand-to-hand combat and clue-hunting to an eclectic slew of fascinating side characters, from a helluva background score to, quite vitally, the fact that it doesn't end where it should and instead keeps giving the protagonist more to do."
"So yes, as a game it'd be sensational, and tremendous fun. As a film, on the other hand, Agent Vinod must be termed a disappointment, a slick and well-produced throwback to the spy thriller that feels both overlong and under-conceived. Sure, it's glossy and gun-filled and looks shiny enough to be from Hollywood, and while that might be Farhan Akhtar's wet dream, one expects both a sense of humour and, most critically, actual cleverness from Sriram Raghavan. Coming from the man who made the marvelous Johnny Gaddaar, Agent Vinod is too depressingly generic to be celebrated," he adds.
But it's chic and uber-cool
Taran Adarsh however feels that Agent Vinod is a chic James Bond kind of a Hindi film. "Sriram Raghavan bestowed Saif with an absolute switch in Ek Hasina Thi. An unblemished look, an unsullied representation. It showcased the aptitude that the actor possesses, which, unfortunately, wasn't tapped in his earlier movies. With Agent Vinod, Sriram and Saif embark upon a spanking new journey, sorry mission, to come up with a spy film. A chic James Bond kind of a Hindi film."
"Back in 1977, a film on a secret agent called Agent Vinod, starring Mahendra Sandhu, proved a surprise hit. Three-and-a-half decades later, Sriram attempts a motion picture of the corresponding sort, retains the title, but goes in for a new plotline all in all. Besides, of course, the new Agent Vinod is uber-cool, vastly stylized and has been filmed at panoramic locales across the globe. Also, it's a well packaged secret agent movie," adds Adarsh.
"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," writes Kunal Guha, Yahoo.
Agent Vinod, revolutionary?
"Agent Vinod sets out to revolutionise filmmaking in India. It draws inspiration from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, the Mission Impossible series, Raj Comic’s Nagraj and Lee Falk & Sy Barry's Phantom stories. The first 40 minutes of the film are intriguing and simultaneously confusing. It is bifurcated into sub-plots, which add adventure to the story. But, the flip side is that some sequences look completely illogical. Like, why would Agent Vinod trust Ruby after being ditched almost twice, is quite amusing! Also, a scene where Ruby recklessly enters the danger zone alone, when she is aware that the enemy is inside and ultimately gets shot in the process, is another one where logic goes for a toss. Like James Bond, Agent Vinod gets away easily, each time he confronts his enemies or vice-versa," writes dailybhaskar.com
"Beyond some sporadic moments, the film lacks any underlying tone of humour, despite the potential. That makes the proceedings somewhat dry. The dialogues are plain functional. Pooja Ladha Surti's editing is smart and sassy and the long runtime doesn't hurt much. The action is slick but doesn't stand out. CK Muraleedharan's cinematography is competent. The background score which derives from James Bond signature tune and RD Burman numbers works well," writes Gaurav Malani, TOI.
"Unwanted scenes (between the lead pair) and unwarranted songs add to the film’s already lazily unfurling narrative. For a thriller that talks of nuclear explosions and a plot that zips from one country to another, the film moves at a staggeringly sluggish pace, and is only intermittently gripping," writes Guha.
"An ambitious script, set in various countries, Agent Vinod is by far the most credible secret agent movie made in Bollywood. This hi-octane thriller has style and substance, both!" feels Adarsh.
"Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Biswas’s story is noting out of the ordinary when you compare to other films of the same genre. Of course, Bollywood has seen very few spy films of late, at least not any memorable ones, but that doesn’t imply that the audience will accept a below-average story. However, it is the screenplay, also by the same writers, is where Agent Vinod really falters. While the writer-director Sriram Raghavan has made sure that the scenes are slickly shot and executed but at times, they hardly make any sense. Although this does gives a feeling of anticipation, the audience soon realizes that there is nothing earth-shattering that is going to be revealed in the plot," writes Mrigank Dhaniwala, Koimoi.com.
"Sriram himself is the vital USP of this endeavor. His method of exemplifying the anecdote is way too varied from the prototypes. Drifting away completely from the Bond movies of swanky cars and cool babes, this one is more about electrifying thrills along with a lot of wit and intelligence and a garnishing of the desi tadka. The nuggets of the quirky humor injected in the plot work incredibly well," says Adarsh.
But Raja Sen differs with Adarsh. "Agent Vinod wants to be funny, and while there is the occasional burst of wit, it's exhaustingly rare. Sriram Raghavan is, first and foremost, a film fanboy, and sure this film has references sprinkled through it? the greatest salutes being to the 1978 Don, with a mention of that immortal character's dislike of a person's shoes, and with inconveniently dead Iftekhaars who are the only ones aware of a protagonist's true allegiance?"
Dhaniwala has a unique perspective. "Director Sriram Raghavan makes a film that sometimes looks like a spoof, sometimes a serious nail-biting spy drama and at other times, is exposed as a half-baked film. His composition of many scenes and action sequences might be unusual and therefore, interesting, but that by itself, means little as the script fails to excite the viewer enough."
"He makes the time honoured mistake of succumbing to the considerable charms of his lead pair and makes it mawkish. So mawkish that it induces sniggers. Which is a pity because he'd been doing fine till then, ticking along nicely, taking Vinod from planes, trains, beaten up Army jeeps, to sailboats, to motorbikes, even to a helicopter," writes Kaveree Bamzai, India Today.
Saif Ali Khan
"After playing a straightforward simpleton in Aarakshan, Saif returns as a spy in Agent Vinod. Saif has a distinct style of dialogue delivery that gels well with the character here. Saif is effectual and charming all through. It's a flawless performance and it's an absolute delight watching Saif get into the groove so magnificently," says Adarsh.
"When the lead cast of the film fails you, it’s like the tail-enders are put to task. But with Saif and Kareena both believing that expressions are injurious to health, there was little that the supporting cast could do to save the day," says Guha.
"Kareena has a pivotal part to play and the fact of the matter is that only a commanding actress could've pulled this role off with elan, flamboyance and vulnerability. The fact that she is superlatively talented only gets reiterated with this awe-inspiring and elaborate act," feels Adarsh.
"On the whole, Agent Vinod is 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. Agent Vinod has all the potential to develop into a triumphant franchise!" Writes Adarsh.
"Sriram Raghavan’s Agent Vinod is brilliant in bits, and incredibly asinine in others. It’s probably the most inconsistently good film I’ve watched lately, and a massive letdown. Which is a pity. It could have made for a rare, looked-forward-to franchise," concludes Guha.