‘Spy’ movie review: A patchy attempt at a thriller with a story steeped in cliches

The Nikhil Siddhartha starrer attempts to merge a personal story with secret files pertaining to Subhas Chandra Bose and the result is a listless thriller, thanks to several old tropes

Updated - June 29, 2023 05:10 pm IST

Published - June 29, 2023 05:09 pm IST

Nikhil Siddhartha in the Telugu thriller movie ‘Spy’

Nikhil Siddhartha in the Telugu thriller movie ‘Spy’

At a crucial moment in Spy, the latest Telugu thriller aiming to capture nationwide attention by releasing in multiple languages, a character declares, “I have no problem with the ones who got the credit, I have a problem with the ones who didn’t.” He says this in reference to Subhas Chandra Bose being a relatively unsung hero as opposed to Nehru and Gandhi. Spy, headlined by Nikhil Siddhartha, with its story by K. Rajashekhar Reddy who has also produced the film, tries to merge a personal story of loss with that of Subhas Chandra Bose’s life and explores what could happen if secret files fall into the wrong hands. 

The premise is intriguing. But what we get is a patchy attempt at a thriller that is far from innovative in its technical treatment as well as writing and narration. Spy opens with incidents that happen in Jordan, then New York and Israel to drive home the point that a terrorist named Kadir Khan, who the Indian RAW agents consider has been killed, resurfaces. Meanwhile, Jai (Nikhil Siddhartha), who has lost his brother Subhash (Aryan Rajesh) on this terrorist mission, is keen to know the truth. 

Spy (Telugu)
Cast: Nikhil Siddhartha, Iswarya Menon, Abhinav Gomatam, Makarand Deshpande
Direction: Garry BH
Music: Vishal Chandrashekhar, Sricharan Pakala
Storyline: A RAW agent is in search of his brother’s killer, a terrorist is on the run, and secret files pertaining to Subhas Chandra Bose go missing. 

The film wants its audience to believe that they are watching a story in which the country’s best spies are in action and have to thwart an imminent attack. However, the characterisation of the agents, their superiors and their methodology of work never make them come across as people who can be trusted with a highly sensitive mission upon which the lives of millions in the country hang by a thread. The introduction of one of the female agents, though a half-hearted attempt at a love story, is laughable.

Spy is filled with the usual tropes — an agent going rogue (you can see the pre-interval twist from miles away), a protagonist who wants to avenge a personal loss and at the same time save the country, a scientist who takes on a new avatar, and more.

Towards the fag end, when the story touches upon the much-hyped exploration of the Bose files and shows us a secret World War II hideout and bunkers, even that does not have the desired effect thanks to subpar visual treatment. 

In fact, the entire film falls short of looking like a slick spy action thriller it positions itself to be. Though the story supposedly shifts between different locations — Sri Lanka, Nepal, Jordan, New Delhi and Kohima — nothing feels arresting. 

In several places, the camera also moves incessantly as though to reflect the tension building up among the agents. Rather than adding to the mood of the narrative, it just makes the visuals less easy on the eye. 

Sricharan Pakala’s score tries to add weightage to the narrative and editor-director Garry BH, who has earlier edited thrillers such as Goodachari, Evaru, HIT: The First Case and HIT: The Second Case among other films, tries to amp up the proceedings by ensuring a relentless pace. But there is little he can do with such a story.

Abhinav Gomatam plays a character that can be described as a RAW agent’s version of the hero’s friend. His inane jokes save the day to an extent but after a point, are not befitting an intelligent agent. 

Spy tries to ride on the nationalistic sentiment but ends up as a bore without a solid story in place. The runtime of 2 hours and 15 minutes feels much longer. The performances, too, have nothing much to offer. 

Rana Daggubati appears in a cameo but he too cannot do much to revive the interest in an already failing narrative. 

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