Verdict: Provides a wholesome and non-jingoistic look into spy business. 

One year after Raazi, Bollywood gives us another espionage film, this time with John Abraham in the lead. Romeo Akbar Walter is an action thriller directed by Robbie Grewal who was previously known for a romance (MP3: Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar) and a comedy (Aloo Chaat). There are many comparisons one can draw between Raazi and Romeo Akbar Walter but we will avoid that since this film stands by itself as a no-nonsense and grounded tribute to the spies who risk their lives for their countries. Not only does RAW have its moments of thrills, but it also shows how this business can get pretty ugly when operations go wrong.

What’s Romeo Akbar Walter About: 

Rehmat Ali aka Romeo (John Abraham) leads a simple life as a banker while having a different avatar for the times he performs on stage as a hobby. This talent of changing his appearance is spotted by the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), who recruit him as a spy. Romeo’s training begins under the supervision of the RAW Chief Shrikant Rai (Jackie Shroff) and he is sent to Pakistan with a new identity – Akbar Malik. There he joins the ranks of a top arms dealer and soon starts passing crucial information from Pakistan to India. His intel gives India a huge boost prior to the 1971 Indo-Pak War. All works as planned until ISI officer Khudabaksh Khan (Sikander Kher) grows suspicious and Akbar’s cover is blown publicly. Now a liability, the RAW team must compromise their spy, thus leading Akbar to make some tough choices.

What Works: 

The concept of Romeo Akbar Walter seems interesting and even the trailer gave us all something to watch out for. The film starts off slow but suddenly picks up when Romeo is recruited by RAW and his training begins. Here onwards to his mission in Pakistan gives you enough to stay engaged for a good hour. John’s performance is decent and his scenes with his on-screen mother, played by Alka Amin, are heart-warming.

In the second half, John Abraham carries the film along with Sikander Kher. Both deliver great performances, as the former tries to hang on to his life in enemy territory and the latter is staunch in putting an end to him. Jackie Shroff’s suave attitude is also one of the highlights of the film that we get to see in bits and pieces. Overall, the film puts you in a somber mood with its dark tones and dreary tunes, as it does not intend to glam up spy business and delivers in that regard.

What Could’ve Been Better: 

It’s best not to draw comparisons between Romeo Akbar Walter and other espionage thrillers as RAW might not be what you expect. The story has more than some inconsistencies that can be ignored if you suspend logic. We wish the characters were built up in a way that we could connect with them emotionally. The two-and-a-half-hour film may feel a tad stretched. Mouni Roy does not get enough screen time and her chemistry with John Abraham could have been better had there been more focus on their relationship. We also wish we could’ve actually seen more of Walter other than a short scene towards the end.

Why You Should Watch: 

Romeo Akbar Walter is a slow-moving story that has its thrilling moments and keeps you guessing until the end. The performances are decent and deserve a watch, especially for Jackie Shroff’s style and John Abraham’s grit. The movie does not attempt to strike your nationalistic chords yet does make you feel a sense of pride for the patriots who risk their lives for the nation. Catch it this weekend at cinemas near you.