You recall the Rathores from Ranjore? Those two macho Malboro men in Jaane Tu ya Jaane Na. Well, if they ever decided to make a film, it would be Mission Istaanbul. Director Apoorva Lakhia’s last film, Shootout at Lokhandwala was a visceral, engaging drama based on a true incident. Mission Istaanbul also draws from reality – there’s an Osama Bin Laden clone, an actor playing George Bush and a television channel called Al Johara instead of Al Jazeera – but the film is pure cartoon. It’s high on testosterone and low on IQ. Zayed Khan plays Vikas Sagar, India's number one television journalist who, for reasons never explained, takes a job with the controversial television channel Al Johara and goes to Turkey for a three-month orientation program. Al Johara is headed by one Mr Ghazni, played by Niketin Dheer, who wears and I’m not joking here, a tuxedo in office. After two minutes of conversation with Vikas, Ghazni says: "enough work, now let's party" and we cut to a song in a nightclub, where Ghazni lounges about with assorted women and Vikas burns up the dance floor. Of course nothing at Al Johara is quite what it seems. There is a mysterious 13th floor where no employee is allowed to go and an unintentionally comical hall of martyrs filled with portraits of former employees who died on duty. All of them wanted to quit their job but Al Johara is Hotel California – you can check out any time you like but you can never leave. Or as Vivek Oberoi, playing a Turkish commando puts it: Jab bhi koi Al Johara chodna chahta hai, woh duniya chod jata hai. Why do all the Turks speak fluent Hindi? We don't know but that's the least of this film's problems. Mission Istaanbul had the potential to be a high octane thriller – the concept is interesting and the action, well-executed. But the characters and screenplay are laughably clunky. When Vikas accidentally wanders into the 13th floor, the security guards beat their star reporter to pulp. This is followed by Ghazni apologising to Vikas, as both of them and the errant security chief, sit half-naked and sweating, in a Turkish hamam. There's a mysterious, sexy woman who makes passes at Vikas and rescues him from all sorts of bone-crunching situations. She turns out to be India's most clevage-flaunting RAW agent. In the climax, Ghazni and Vikas converse about the information age, mouthing dialogue like: log marte hain aur tumhare trp’s badte hain. And if all this wasn’t enough: Mission Istaanbul also has the most ludicrous product placement for a cold drink since Coca Cola starred in Yaadein. There isn't much actors can do with material like this. Viveik Oberoi saunters around, trying to look cool and smirking even as he chops a man’s hands. Zayed tries hard to bring conviction to his role but its an uphill climb and Dheer is pure wood – I suspect that directors cast him thinking that his formidable size will distract from the bad acting but no such luck. Eventually then, despite all the snazzy shots, hot women, helicopters and blazing guns, Mission Istaanbul is a cheap ticket to Istanbul but not much else.