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You know you’re seeing a world of absurd extravagance and make-believe when people start disbursing tens of millions of dollars without fear of God, or income tax authorities.

When stakes are usually in billions, millions become chump-change — and besides, in a movie like Race 3, anything sounding less pretentious wrinkles it’s super-rich aura.

Barely five minutes into the story, we instinctively know how realistic and grounded the entire enterprise is going to be. Money flows like expensive whisky (because water is just too cheap for these people). Police and villains fly over sandy terrains in expensive military grade helicopters. Heroes walk around lugging four-socket rocket launchers without spraining their bicep muscles. In one scene Salman Khan, the new hero of the franchise, slides a heavy duty all-terrain car over a villain with his right hand, barely working up a sweat.

“I can’t date just anyone, because you’ve raised the bar on men,” says one of the leading ladies when asked why she is still single.

Race 3 is over the top. In all matters

She was referring to Race 3’s three leading men, Salman, Bobby Deol and Saqib Saleem; all three are expensively kitted out alpha-male specimens. To this lady, other men dancing on a nearby deck seem like squash-worthy, insignificant mortals.

The heroines — Jacqueline Fernandez and Daisy Shah — aren’t runner-ups either. The girls divide their time flaunting figure-hugging designer wear and kicking butt, for which they mercilessly slit their designer wear in two for better leg movement.

When romancing men, in what could be called dance moves, they show extreme muscle power by performing acrobatics on stripping poles or suspended fabrics (the latter dance style is called aerial silks).

These uber achievers defy conventions with an indifferent shrug of their shoulders. The audience would be wise to loosen up as well.

Like I wrote earlier, you don’t need to know a lot about Race 3 — except that there’s a new director on board (Remo D’Souza replaces Abbas-Mastan), and that it incorporates The Fast & The Furious film series’ main selling point: the lead character’s dedication to maintaining familial-ties.

Although prior installments of Race had spun off from the same angle, this part has retuned itself squarely to F&F’ specifics: namely, fastening the essence of a ho-hum plot around the sex appeal of gorgeous women, flashy cars and bulked-up men. Under the hood, both movies are near identical twins.

Salman Khan replaces Vin Diesel as the brawny character with the family-first mindset. The actor plays Sikander, the stepson and half-heir to Shamsher Singh’s fortunes. Shamsher (Anil Kapoor) lives in a private island called Al-Shifa, from where he trades ammunition legally and illegally around the world. Sikander has two step-siblings, Suraj and Sanjana (Saleem and Shah) who either pamper themselves with dad’s riches or become unsympathetic killers in the blink of an eye. The group rounds out with Yash (Deol), a close confidante of Shamsher’s family, who, like everyone else in the story, is also a man of mano-e-mano action (the action is badly shot and edited, by the way).

Finally, there’s Jessica (Fernandez), a hot-bod who Sikander romanced in China, who pops into their lives out of the blue and the story sets off into a series of quadruple-crosses (double-crosses are just too clichéd and substandard for these people). Almost everything one assumes happens.

One can actually see Salman Khan’s distinct comedic additions in the screenplay — even if most of them fail miserably. Even the dramatics are worth a giggle or two. At one moment Khan goes into an emotional monologue, and the audience laugh. They simply couldn’t help it. Like the movie’s story, Khan wasn’t serious, and so shouldn’t you be.

It’s all brute strength and shiny make-up. So, one might as well relish the overabundance of everything.

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 1st, 2018