Despite several cinematic liberties, the sharp screenplay and the fantastic action choreography come to the film’s rescue
Ramakrishna, a budding ethical hacker, is desperate to work for RAW. Despite failing the entrances thrice, he is committed to winning the attention of RAW chief Mahadev, his childhood hero. While the latter doesn’t pay heed to his enthusiasm initially, he is surprised by his determination. He brings Ramakrishna a.k.a Agent Wild on board to abort ‘Mission Rabbit’, the brainchild of a syndicate headed by a rogue agent Dharma. Who has the final laugh?
It’s a rather straightforward job for a storyteller to attempt a spy thriller that stays true to the genre where the plot, and not the star, drives the film forward. However Surender Reddy, an expert at action entertainers, decides to give the genre the appeal of a star vehicle and widen its appeal among the masses with his latest outing, Agent. The attempt to straddle both worlds yields mixed results but you still get a ‘wildly’ entertaining, restless action film that’ll keep you hooked.
The makers weren’t lying when they claimed that the story revolves around three agents - Mahadev, Ramakrishna and Dharma (nicknamed Devil, Wild and God). While Mahadev heads RAW and Dharma is a spy gone rogue, Ramakrishna’s stint as an agent has barely taken off. While understanding the hullabaloo around missions, targets, weapons and strategies may alienate a viewer, the director makes up for it with an entertaining backstory to Ramakrishna.
Surender Reddy makes it evident that he cares for cinematic highs and entertainment over logic or believability. Ramakrishna is so guarded about his interest to be a spy that he hides it from his parents and girlfriend too. He employs strange tactics to land his dream job. The film, in the initial portions, borders on the absurd while trying to justify his enthusiasm.
The romance segment is a key link between Ramakrishna and his ambition though it’s poorly written - the girl has ambition but is just reduced to an object of beauty and later a damsel in distress. To the credit of the team, the tightly packaged, busy screenplay doesn’t give you time to think. Meanwhile, his superior Mahadev gets a heroic welcome to the film’s universe and Mammootty, with his experience (or let’s say swag?), plays it with a touch of class.
Look beyond the shaky foundation, Agent surprises you with its effort to supplement its three pivotal characters with worthy arcs and gives all of them abundant scope to shine. Though the antagonist appears like a caricaturish villain of a 70s Hindi film initially, audiences get to understand his side of the story sooner. Surender Reddy is at his best when he sets up the massy moments and executes the action sequences - it’s a paisa vasool experience on the big screen.
Agent gets the obligatory pre-intermission sequence right. The film’s momentum picks up in the second hour. The protagonist is on a globe-trotting spree, the loyalties keep changing and there’s a fair dose of action, twists backed by well-written sub-plots. Barring amateurish CG/VFX work at places, poor song placement and Hiphop Tamizha’s underwhelming tracks, the canvas of the film is visually very appealing.
The final faceoff among the characters in the climax could’ve been smarter but it gives Mammootty the license to discuss the sacrifices of undercover agents for a better world. Given the image and the aura of the star, the strategy pays off. Purely going by how Surender Reddy handles this material, Agent proves that he has has adapted with the times and does well to capture the pulses of the masses.
For a spy thriller, Agent is quite long - at about 156 minutes - and the flurry of conflicts slightly test your patience towards the end. With Akhil Akkineni’s character, the makers position him as a Jackie Chan equivalent with his body language and the role gets many nicknames - monkey, wild saala being the prominent ones. Akhil’s uninhibited performance helps you overlook his boyish appeal and buy the character’s eccentricities mostly.
Mammootty bags a role that perfectly complements his experience, stardom and his restraint works as a balancing act amidst Akhil’s wild adventures. Dino Morea grows on you over time and there’s a sincere effort on his part to give the role a distinct personality though the dubbing issues prove to be a distraction. Sakshi Vaidya looks like a dream but the Telangana accent is jarring. You wish the makers did a better job at integrating her role into the story.
Varalaxmi Sarathkumar is wasted in an inconsequential special appearance while Sampath Raj, Murali Sharma, Posani Krishna Murali do what’s expected of them. Rasool Ellore’s worth as a lensman reflects in the result. The editor could’ve done a job at ironing out the narrative inconsistencies. By the end, Agent leaves you entertained and partly exhausted.
Agent is a largely engaging spy thriller with a sharp screenplay and fabulous action choreography filmed on a wide canvas. While the initial portions of the film are shaky, Akhil Akkineni’s no-holds-barred performance is adequately balanced by Mammootty’s restraint. At over two and a half hours, the film overstays its welcome considerably. Despite its follies, Surender Reddy ensures a paisa vasool experience.