War movie cast: Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, Ashutosh Rana, Vaani Kapoor, Anupriya Goenka
War movie director: Siddharth Anand
War movie rating: Two stars
What do you expect when you have the two most beautifully-muscled, elastic bods in Bollywood playing I spy in a Yashraj movie?
Every frame bristling with the combined smirk-and-swag of Hrithik-Tiger? Check. Lavish locations all around the world? Present and accounted for. Lots of fast-paced chases? War has all of the above, and yet, it’s in the not quite there zone. Not quite smart enough, and most importantly, not quite new enough.
The set-up has promise. Agent Kabir (Roshan) who is a patriot to beat all desh-bhakts, has gone rogue. Former star-struck pupil Agent Khalid (Shroff) is assigned by chief spymaster (Rana) to track Kabir, and the cat-and-mouse chase, of one man on the tail of another, is as old as the spy saga itself. Veteran movie spies like Bond and Bourne and their minders have to work very hard to keep us glued with newer, flashier plot devices, spiffier toys and yes, deadlier enemies. In War, you can see the twists coming a mile off.
War’s insistence on being a family entertainer leads it towards the predictable template of song-and-dance, played-for-laughs dialogue-baazi-in-fights, teary mothers and loving sons. A rumbustious Holi dance in the middle of a remote outpost gives our lads, who move like greased lightning, a chance to shake their admirable booties. But it also makes us roll our eyes, which would be fine if the film was in full-on comic book mode. But of course, it’s not.
All the space is gobbled up by Hrithik and Tiger, and they are so busy strutting across the screen, in all their glory, so ripped, so brawny, that the poor baddies don’t really get a chance. Not one scary villain who sends the shivers down our spines? Then the spies might as well be playing ring-around-the-roses with each other.
Scads full of cash must have been needed to take the cast from as diverse places as Portugal to Sydney to Kerala, and there’s no been stinting there. But a story with freshness and zing? Missing in action. It talks of the ‘desh ke dushman’ as did movies of the 70s and 80s; dated dialogues which combine ‘Musalmaan’ and ‘vatanparasti’ only add to the casual bigotry which is becoming common parlance these days.
The girls, Vaani Kapoor as a lissome dancer, and Anupriya Goel as an ace code-cracker, get some air-time, but it’s the boys who have all the fun: falling off choppers, zooming about in fast cars, diving off bridges, getting in some bloody fisticuff-time. Shroff shouldn’t ever team up with Roshan again though; on his own, Tiger is a dream dancer with jaw-dropping moves, and can take on five hundred armed desperadoes; when Hrithik is around, though, he recedes into the background.
The last time Hrithik looked as sexy, was in Dhoom 2 (2006), also a Yashraj film. The golden streaks have been replaced with a bit of grey at the temples, but the bronzed cheekbones decorated with a few fetching scars, the fighting-fit figure in fatigues-and-dark-glasses and the case-hardened look, is full eye-candy. I’m not revealing anything by telling you that War looks all set to be a franchise: next time maybe go complete comic-book silly? Now that’s a spy I will buy.