In the sequel to 2008’s Race, Saif Ali Khan returns as Ranveer; A sharp witted protagonist and antagonist whose ambitions are stuck for good in the con games and as formula prescribes, he’s got murder in his mind.
After opening, with possibly the worst car-explosion special effects in history, Ranveer, off the radar since Race, appears at a Casino run by Vikram Thapar (Rajesh Khattar), a millionaire whose motivations for money-doubling are as philistine as his common sense.
Vikram’s con, in a long line of unoriginal rip-offs in Race 2’s, is one of the small fishes; there’s bigger game at play. As a song from the movie goes “Allah Duhai Hai”!
Ranveer, like any other heroic lead-villain of a heist movie, has a deceptive itinerary of money laundering, money nabbing and general hoodwinking pre-plotted.
His schema compromises: Amaan (John Abraham, leaner, as effective as possible with the material), a street fighter turned big-fish, his half-sultry sister (Deepika Padukone), his newly acquired girl-friend (Jacqueline Fernandez), the returning lynchpin with a fruit fetish (Anil Kapoor) and his new stereotypical dumb-blonde (Ameesha Patel).
There are also a lot of deal breaking and half-interested late night booty calls that trail away to ritzy dance numbers.
Double take cons and U-turns go off without intrigue or punch (there’s a vengeance-driven backstory, that one outguesses an hour before it happens on-screen).
Credibility, as signs point out, was on leave the days Race 2 was written, leaving emotional gravity at the mercy of its actors (and we know how that pans out). Still, even with Saif Ali Khan bringing his sincerest asceticism to his scenes, a hefty bulk of Race 2 turns out as phony as his million Euro fibs.
Race 2 may sound like an imbecilic drag, built on pomp, glitzy showmanship and middling narrative pizzazz by directors Abbas-Mastan, its flow, however, isn’t intolerable (the “duo” radically recover from last year’s Players.
In fact, ‘2’ is a pricier “mix” of part 1 (which was a lift-off of Goodbye Lover by the way) – and if that is the benchmark, then Race 2 in an unabashed winner, in a one-person grand prix.
Win, lose or settle. Is there really a difference…?
The songs are kind of spiffy; the action, especially a free-running Parkour dash in Cyprus – is half-engaging. The romance and retribution bit…well, I’ve seen better. ‘Race 3’, should be out sooner than you think
Released by UTV, Tips and Geo Films; Race 2 is rated U/A.