Robert Akbar Walter: Too RAW to be served
Lately Bollywood has been in a mood of espionage thrillers, a genre which has been successfully dealt in movies like BABY (2015), D-Day (2013) and Raazi (2018), and not so successfully in Phantom (2015) and Agent Vinod (2013) both staring Saif Ali Khan.
Robert Akbar Walter belongs to the same genre, set in 1971 it tells the story of Romeo Ali (John Abraham) a bank teller whose life changes when RAW Chief Shrikant Rai (Jackie Shroff) approaches him for a covert mission in Pakistan. The rest I don’t want to reveal as it will steal the fun from the movie.
Written by the director Robbie Grewal in association with Ishraq Eba and Shreyansh Pandey, RAW starts on a wobbly ground, as the first half is outright flat and does not give you any thrill which is a must with an espionage thriller. It takes the complete first half to set up the story and by the intermission moment you have already lost interest in the proceedings. The second half does have its moments with some twists which look half baked. It is only in the last 30 minutes that the movie really does justice to its genre but it is too late to salvage. The twists are too less and too convenient. The edge of the seat moments are also few, unlike in Raazi which kept you invested and on the edge of the seat. The characters other than the two principal characters of RAW Chief and Romeo Ali look as if written in a hurry or no thought has been invested behind building these characters. The character of Parul (Mouni Roy) looks written in a haste and you never really get to see the real character, similar is the case with other characters. Another problem is the pace, it is so slow with screen time of 139 minutes, that at the end you just want the movie to end. The screenplay is the biggest drawback of the movie. The premise was promising and interesting but the screenplay just doesn’t pick up and remains flat throughout barring the last 30 minutes.
Performance wise John Abraham in the titular role tries hard and it shows on screen but somehow does not convince us as an intelligent spy. John being a weak actor somehow burdens the movie which already has a weak screenplay. Jackie Shroff as the RAW chief Shrikant Rai looks too stylish for the character he plays, but frankly he is the only actor who does justice to his role. Mouni Roy as the love interest of Romeo remains a decorative piece in the movie with nothing meaty to do. Performance wise Mouni falters big time and the sketchy character does not help either. Sikander Kher as Col Khan, tries to look menacing but fails, his dialect is also inconsistent. Rest of the actor like Raghuvir Yadav who is wasted, Suchitra Krishnamurty, Rajesh Shringarpure, Alka Ameen do not create any impact.
Director Robbie Grewal whose Samay (2003) was very impressive and his best till date, again fails to impress just like his previous movies like Aloo Chaat (2009) and MP3 (2007). Robbie Grewal picks up an interesting premise but fails to stich a consolidated screenplay which is edge of the seat. Though he does not fail with the look and the tone of the movie but execution wise he fails. Give me Samay any day, I guess one of the best performance of Sushmita Sen till date.
It is the cinematography by Tapan Tushar Basu that makes the movie a visual treat, he get the tonality of the premise bang on. The second department which scores big is the production design by Swapnil Bhalerao & Madhur Madhavan, every nitty gritty has been taken care of to the point of perfection. The third department which scores high is the costume design by Ameira Punvani, she gets the time correct with her costume and nothing looks out of place.
Overall Robert Akbar Walter remains RAW throughout, I will go with TWO Stars.
Movie Rating: (2 / 5)