The thing about a thriller is that it needs to keep you hooked at some level and there needs to be enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Even if it’s not a suspense thriller, the situations need to keep you engaged. “Romeo Akbar Walter” is an espionage film. It’s like slow poison. It tries to build on you, but ultimately you are left hollow. There are decent moments, but ultimately it could have been much better.
Romeo (John Abraham), a bank cashier is recruited by Srikanth Rai (Jackie Shroff), the head of India’s foreign intelligence agency — the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The agency believes he’s a master of disguise and can operate as Akbar, India’s undercover agent in Pok (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) during the events leading up to the 1971 Indo-Pak war. So, Romeo turns into Akbar Malik as he’s sent to Pakistan for an undercover mission. He’s asked to send intel about a certain Isaq Afridi (Anil George) and the people around him. While he mixes up the people over there, Srikanth with the use of Romeo/Akbar’s information dodges a lethal attack back in India. The film is all about how Romeo manages to stay afloat despite getting into the bad books of Pakistan police.
The screenplay starts fast. It doesn’t take long to establish out protagonist, and the ball starts rolling soon after as he is recruited. Then the training begins. So far so good. It is only after his mission begins where the film starts to slow down. There aren’t enough “OMG” moments in the film. The mother-son angle and the love story seems forced and superficial. It further slows down the pace. The screenplay could have been much better as well. The subtle interaction between Akbar (Romeo) and the man who becomes his colleague (played by Raghuvir Yadav) seems to be the most fleshed out. The moments between him and Isaq Afridi seem to have an upward path, but ultimately doesn’t lead anywhere. However, the first half still gives you a sense of hope that the film may have some surprises in store for us. But the second half further drags the story, and your patience is tested as you hope for something more, like a major twist or a turning point.
Technically, the film stands strong. The cinematography and the editing works. The production design is noteworthy. The sound design is competent; however, the background score is questionable at times, with odd transitions. The songs leave absolutely no impact, and work as a speed breaker. The performances are noteworthy, especially John Abraham and Jackie Shroff. Both of them get into the skin of their character. Special mention to Raghuvir Yadav.
Overall, the screenplay is the main culprit that prevents the film from becoming what it could have become. Still, however, if the espionage genre fascinates you, then this film is for you.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.