A globe-trotting RAW agent has to decode the number 242 to unearth a catastrophe waiting to hit this part of the world. But are mean men, swank cars and picturesque locations enough to make a slick thriller?
The plot: Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) is on a mission to find out why his friend and fellow spy Rajan (Ravi Kishen) was killed by gangster Abu Nazer (Ram Kapoor) and what the number 242 leads to. After a string of dead bodies are strewn over half the world (Morocco, Pakistan, St Petersburg, name it), Vinod guns and fists his way through familiar terror territory until the bomb he has traced travels to New Delhi for the climax. Wait a minute. Just when The End seems mercifully near, Vinod is off to London to give a new twist to global terror.
The good: The film entertains in parts with Bond-like cheesy one-liners, has a rather generous serving of action and some of the performances manage to impress. Ram Kapoor playing Abu Nazer and Colonel played by Adil Hussain make an impact even if they have uni-dimensional parts. Saif Ali Khan is decent as a suave spy. The background music is interesting, the tune changing with the location. The best part of the movie is the variety of locations which unfortunately don’t help to make the film a better watch.
The bad: Coming from the director of well-plotted films like Ek Hasina Thi and Johnny Gaddaar, slickness and intriguing storytelling were expectedly awaited. But Sriram has hugely lost the plot this time around. Characters pop in and out without leaving behind a firm footprint. For instance, Ram Kapoor gets a fantastic build-up but dies without even a ripple of excitement. Ditto Prem Chopra (playing yet another don) and sundry other meanies who initially seem strong but soon make weak, unexciting exits. Code 242 doesn’t manage to create the tension or pressure that was required to sustain interest or to provide an edge-of-the-seat thrill. Considering its genre, the aim should have been to keep the viewer perplexed, amazed, surprised, shocked as each knot gets untied. Instead it’s flat terrain most of the way with no omigosh moments. The emotional babble between Agent Vinod and Iram (Kareena), the intriguing figure from across the border, further erodes the mood of the spy film it sets out to be. Given its budget, it had the scope to be smart but the bewildering Pak girl track allows the film to sink deeper.
The final blow, supposed to provide the twist in the tale, is too cold to pass off as a climax. The flaws in the screenplay are far too many to be overlooked and are actually annoying. Sample: It’s ridiculous to watch defenceless Iram get down from the jeep and go hunting for the deadly Colonel all by herself without informing anyone (when there are better-equipped people around), only to get easily shot by him. There is no novelty in the scenes as all the clichés performed by James Bond, Bourne and Ethan Hunt are repeated without that fast-paced edginess a spy thriller requires. There are too many characters out there, most of them half baked. Some layers to each of the main characters would have made them more intriguing. Arijit Biswas and Sriram Raghavan must take the rap for poor writing. Kareena has little to do and her mujra is an embarrassment to watch with a trace of a tummy doing the jiggy with her.
Overall: There was space available for a slick spy entertainer which Sriram Raghavan has failed to move into and occupy.
– Pooja Thakkar