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Review: 'Tiger' stalks its prey in espionage and love

'Ek Tha Tiger' mixes romance and action, but it's more mayhem than love.

August 16, 2012|By Robert Abele
  • Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif.
Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. (Yash Raj Films )

Mixing awkward dating humor, starry-eyed sentiment and James Bond-ian set pieces, "Ek Tha Tiger" is a relentlessly superficial — nigh, ridiculous — entertainment, but manages to protect its story twists the old-fashioned way, through star power, picturesque locations (Ireland, Cuba, Turkey) and pleasurably choreographed action.

The lavishly produced Bollywood action love story starts from an admittedly unusual point in the spy-vanquisher genre: career fatigue and romantic longing. Salman Khan's Indian intelligence hero "Tiger" has been on back-to-back missions for 12 years.

After brutally fending off enemies in an Iraq-set prologue, Tiger's boss (Girish Karnad) comes to Tiger's meager, sparsely-furnished flat, and the two chat about an agent's chance for love before they get to existential security threats.

Naturally, then, when Tiger drops into Dublin to shadow a science professor (Roshan Seth) who might be spilling secrets to Pakistan, his focus becomes compromised when he falls for the professor's beautiful caretaker Zoya (Katrina Kaif).

Khan knows how to soften his one-man-killing-machine gaze for the gooey moments, but given how much mayhem results from a superspy following his heart, "Ek Tha Tiger" might not be the advertisement for love it thinks it is.

Robert Abele

"Ek Tha Tiger." No MPAA rating; in Hindi with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours, 13 minutes. At selected theaters.

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