Director Robbie Grewal’s “Romeo Akbar Walter”, starring John Abraham in the lead, is a spy thriller set against the backdrop of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. The film focuses on the role of an Indian intelligence agency in one of the prominent episodes of subcontinent history that resulted in the birth of a new nation.
“Romeo Akbar Walter” starts with Rehmat Ali, aka Romeo (John Abraham), a bank cashier who is also a theatre artist, getting a call from India’s top spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The agency chief Shrikant Rai (Jackie Shroff) assigned him the most critical task of spying in the enemy territory of Pakistan.
Well, Romeo has his family history as his father had also laid down his life in the service of the motherland. While Romeo always wanted to join the army but is unable to do so because of his mother. After receiving the offer, he lies to his mother that he will be away for a few days for official banking training, but in reality, he travels to Pakistan for the mission.
From there, Romeo gets close to an arms dealer and learns top-secret information that Pakistan is planning to launch an air-strike in Badlipur area of the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The story then follows a series of episodes when he must risk his life to transmit valuable information to the Indian side.
Romeo Akbar Walter | Movie Trailer
If we look at some of the recent Indian spy thrillers, there are few but not many are up to the standard in storytelling, except Meghna Gulzar’s “Raazi” (2018). In fact, in the Hindi film industry (Bollywood) we can see few big-budget spy thrillers, but their focus was more on action and fiction, rather than a fact-based quality story.
Robbie Grewal has a good plot with a decent story, but its execution is not good at all. The screenplay lacks the punch for an intelligent narration that could have kept us engaged. Moreover, the two-and-a-half-hour long film looks more like an attempt to join together various scenes with no cohesion.
Probably, the makers were not too sure in their intention – whether to make it a slow-paced thriller by bringing in a few key characters OR to make it an out-and-out action thriller. We don’t see any effort on characterization – starting from mother-son bonding to the relationship Romeo shares with other spies. Everything looks mechanical on screen. Abraham’s performance is decent, but we don’t get connected with the character.
There are few scenes in “Romeo Akbar Walter” which are interesting, including the climax that has a twist, but by that time, there are too many predictable revelations to ruin the overall feel of the movie.
In an atmosphere of patriotic flavor in India, this might work for a certain section of people, but to be honest – “Romeo Akbar Walter” is not the right espionage thriller you’re looking for when we talk about Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts. There is so much scope to make spy thriller on Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
Romeo Akbar Walter – Other Details
Cast: John Abraham, Jackie Shroff, Mouni Roy, Sikander Kher, Raghuvir Yadav, Alka Amin, Rajesh Shringarpure, Anil George
Director: Robbie Grewal
Genres: Hindi-language Films, Bollywood Films, Dramas, Thrillers, Spy Thrillers
Release Date/Year: 5 April 2019
Streaming Service: Netflix