Don’t read this review!!!!! This is for people who have seen the movie and want a place to discuss it. The twists are so good/bad (as in, completely impossible and jaw droppingly dumb and yet entertaining) that you REALLY REALLY shouldn’t spoil yourself. Read this review to get pumped for the film, then come back here to discuss it after watching. Oh, and if you aren’t interested in a big dumb action movie, don’t even bother reading this review, the plot summary alone will bore you and infuriate you.
Whole plot in two paragraph:
We start with Hrithik, top Indian secret agent, shooting his an Indian analyst and going rogue. Tiger, fellow top agent who he trained, is brought in to be part of the team tracking him down. But he is not put in charge of the team because (as Ashutosh Rana, their boss says outright in an open briefly) “you love him”. Flashback two years, Tiger is a young commando just assigned to training with Hrithik, top hero agent. Hrithik doesn’t trust him because Tiger’s father was a traitor who killed Hrithik’s partner and then Hrithik shot him. But Tiger begs for a chance to prove himself. Their mission is to capture a terrorist who is being secretly funded by a top international billionaire. Hrithik and Tiger end up fighting together and then are in love. That night, Hrithik calls Tiger into his private office and confronts him because Hrithik has realized Tiger has a problem with his peripheral vision. Tiger begs to stay on the team and prove himself, reveals his eye sight was damaged when his classmates beat him up after his father was revealed as a traitor. Hrithik agrees it will be there secret. And then they dance. And then they get word that the top billionaire guy has been spotted in Marrekech. The team goes to get him but, at the last minute, it is revealed that one of the young members is a traitor. Tiger goes off chasing the traitor, Hrithik tries to take down the billionaire and fails. Tiger is found a week later washed up on the beach but still alive, Hrithik is in the hospital too. They are the only ones remaining of the team except their female IT support Anupriya Goenka and closer than ever. In the present, Hrithik does an amazing midair assassination of a General. And then Tiger gets on his train to go home and is surprised by Hrithik. Hrithik intensely offers him to either tell why he is doing this or give him the name of the next target. They almost kiss, and then Hrithik gives Tiger a note with the name of the next target and disappears. INTERVAL
Post-interval, we see Hrithik with an adorable little girl. They talk about her mother and Hrithik flashes back to Vaani Kapoor. She was a night club dancer in I want to say Prague? Somewhere like that. Hrithik romanced her, but it is revealed that was only because he thought he might need her to help to get his latest target. He is having no luck getting close to the target and he overhears a conversation the target has about bribing a “Bishop, Knight, Rook, and Pawn”. Desperate to learn who these highly placed people are in Indian government, he tells Vaani the truth and sends her in to download files off the computer. As she is in there, Hrithik realizes his target is actually the billionaire terrorist who had perfect plastic surgery to make him look like his own accountant. Vaani is then discovered and killed, leaving her adorable little daughter (the little girl in the present day) an orphan. Hrithik realizes he can’t trust his own agency since Vaani was killed soon after he called in about the mission. He also realizes who the “Rook” must be, the analyst that his boss called about Vaani. He kills him, and gets him to tell the name of the “Bishop” and “Knight” who become his next two targets. Tiger tries to protect the “Bishop” (a scientist) which leads to a high speed motorcycle chase through Portugal before Hrithik finally gets the mysterious codes from the scientist before he dies. Tiger is then off the case but continues investigating on his own and tracks down Hrithik. Hrithik tells him the whole story and that Anupriya has been feeding him information the whole time. They go to Anupriya’s wedding to ask her help translating the codes and learn they are for an army communication satellite. And then Tiger POISONS Hrithik! And reveals that he is not Tiger after all! He is that traitor member of the team who was given high tech plastic surgery to look just like Tiger after he killed Tiger. He has been working against Hrithik the whole time and now he has the codes! Evil Tiger goes to Finland to use the codes to take down the satellite along with the top evil billionaire. But then Hrithik shows up! He has been tracking Evil Tiger! He know Evil Tiger was Evil and Not Tiger. He and Evil Tiger have a final chase and fight and Hrithik kills Evil Tiger. And then in the epilogue, Ashutosh Rana tracks down Hrithik in Australia where he is vacationing with Vaani’s little girl and they agree that he will continue to pretend to be a rogue agent in order to work undercover, and Hrithik asks that full credit for the mission go to Good Dead Tiger because it was all for him after all. Soni Razdan (Good Dead Tiger’s mother) gets an award in his name while Hrithik surfs in Australia with Vaani’s daughter.
This is the kind of movie this is. When Evil Tiger is revealed as Evil, he immediately starts wearing guyliner. Because as an Evil person, he has a natural affinity with guyliner which he has been hiding while undercover as Good Tiger. There are secret poisons, and also secret antidotes. And of course, there is plastic surgery that can be done in total secret and yet done so well that you look identical to someone else post-surgery. On the other hand, the Indian secret service apparently has no way of identifying their agents besides eyeballing their faces, no fingerprints or blood tests necessary. And Hrithik, as a rogue agent, somehow has limitless resources available to him (how does he pay for the airplane that he uses to fly over and then land on another bigger airplane?). Also in the final fight, Hrithik literally breaks stone pillars with his head and then shakes it off. This is very much a “leave your brain at the door” kind of film. But that’s a fun thing!
What I really love about this movie is that the stakes are so low. At the very very end we learn that they are taking out the communication satellite so the Indian army will have no way of communicating with each other. The characters try to make this out to be Worst Thing Ever, but it’s really not. What did they do before they had a satellite? Just do that again! Or borrow someone else’s satellite! It’s actually refreshing after all these action movies that drag out the terrifying danger (whether it is constantly showing the hostages in danger, or talking about massive potential bomb blasts) to have a movie that expects you to keep watching just because it is fun, not because you are terrified and stressed.
The only stakes really are the romantic ones between Tiger and Hrithik. The tension in the early sequence is so high, mixed with longing glances. And then there is the pain of the separation as Tiger struggles to decide if he could ever really kill Hrithik while Hrithik can’t help reaching out to him through untraceable phone calls and secret train meetings. And finally the reunion, fighting side by side, going to the wedding together (where Tiger makes a joke about eloping with Hrithik). Before the heartbreaking reveal that Tiger isn’t really Tiger and Hrithik’s love is dead. I’m not even joking or reading against the grain, the whole film is built on the tension between the two. The plot zigs and zags and doesn’t really hold together or make sense scene by scene, but the love story keeps you going.
What’s fascinating is that the tension is both textual and extra-textual. Within the plot of the film, everyone knows and acknowledges that Hrithik and Tiger are in love. That is why Hrithik trusts and reaches out to Tiger even while on the run. That is why at the end of the film all he asks is that Tiger get credit for the mission and what he did. And when he has the final fight with Evil Tiger, he emotionally says he can’t kill him while he has Tiger’s face. But Evil Tiger and Hrithik also have moments of tension together, even though when Evil Tiger was played by another actor pre-plastic surgery there was no tension. So the film is both giving us a Tiger-Hrithik love story, and giving us extraneous Tiger-Hrithik sexy scenes between the actors that are technically unrelated to the love story. Put it another way, we get a tender love story in the first half, and a sexy stressful hate-love story in the second half.
Beyond the Tiger-Hrithik relationship, there really isn’t much to the film. Some fun action sequences, but only two songs. And some kind of not fun action scenes too. No real clever dialogue or amusing situations. The villain does not even have an actor listed in the credits that I can find, he wasn’t that entertaining. Anupriya Goenka was great, but didn’t exactly have a character. Vaani Kapoor has almost nothing to do. Compared to Bang Bang (love Bang Bang!) there weren’t the fun light pure humor moments, and there was no villain who came close to Danny Denzongpa and Javed Jaffrey. There wasn’t an emotional heft like we got in Bang Bang from Deepti Naval at the end, or Katrina’s innocence. It’s all just Man Love and action scenes.
Bottom line is, if you are not here for the Man Love, I cannot honestly recommend this film. It’s a series of action scenes tied together by a charming leading man and that’s not really enough to carry the film. But if you watch it as a tragic love story, there is a lot there.
Oh, and Vaani Kapoor and Hrithik have, like, negative chemistry together. Which the film acknowledges, never even pretends that it is a love story. Kind of awesome for how Vaani’s character is treated, in the end. She gets to Hrithik because she is different and special and good, not because he is in love with her. Vaani’s is special not because she is “sexy” but because she makes Hrithik question the human cost of his missions by standing up to him and reminding him she is a person and a mother before she dies. Come to think of it, Anupriya too. She is one of those Swiss army knife female assistants who can find any information, decode secret encryption, and even make poison antidotes on demand. But the film treats her as one of the team, a trusted partner, with no hint of romance between her and anyone else. Making the two leads gay really opens up possibilities for the female characters!
And, to put this as delicately as possible, it also opens up possibilities for the imaginations of the female audience. Why more people don’t realize that just as many women like male-male content as men like female-female content, I do not know.