It was inevitable that I would dig up my Agent Vinod review to write this one: the two films invite comparison, even though their successes and failures are entirely their own, and their genres differ as well. Still, two recent films starring real-life couples about Indian agents who fall in love with women from the other side and traipse the world as the plot progresses - so which film comes out on top?
In Agent Vinod, Vinod has a real case on his hands, so the love story takes a backseat. In Ek Tha Tiger, the love story frames the entire film, and somehow magically benefits it. There's still action, but the action only takes place within that love story, and is made more awesome for it.
It's the weirdest thing. Agent Vinod did, in some ways, attempt to reach the stars; the scale was ambitious, but certain things about the handling of the plot, the dull acting and the lack of that little something extra ultimately made it a disappointing watch despite its grand technical merits. Kabir Khan chooses a tell a fairly simplistic story, but does so well, and whatever other things he gets in the plus column (well-directed action, handsome cinematography, fun songs) only add to the film's uncomplicated fun.
I've only seen Katrina and Salman act against each other in the atrocious and objectionable Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya (where the comedy revolves entirely around cheating!), so it's quite easy for them to portray a better chemistry here, seeing as how she's grown as an actress. Still, not quite enough for my taste. The thing about Salman's recent renaissance batch of films (Dabangg, Wanted etc) is that they use utilize his limited emoting skills and his unlimited Being Salman skills perfectly. Ek Tha Tiger demands some emoting, and against as limited an actress as Katrina, the chemistry just isn't as off-the-charts as one would wish for a film that focuses so much on the love story between their two characters. It's okay - it's just not amazing.
Even so, for a cute love story wrapped in a well-executed action film mold, I'd rewatch Ek Tha Tiger without a doubt. It's filmi flare is eventually what saves it, it's just a shame that the best chemistry exemplified by the leads can be found in the song that's not bound in the narrative itself: Mashallah.