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Movie Review: Race 2

January 29, 2013

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Retribution can be considered bitter - sweet when hoodwinking billions.

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”!

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Race 2, shot everywhere except India (as its predecessor), is a lot like every other sequel: it suffers from ‘sequelitis’ – an epidemic that infects the genome of box-office breaking movies with spin-off potential. The virus is global and unbiased in its toxicity: it shares equal affection regardless of geographies, film industries or originality in plot pitching. 
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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).

 

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Consequences and upshots are relegated to second class citizenship, outmoded by infrequent growls, car chases, fisticuffs and skimpy bikini beach-parties (as another song goes: everyone has a “Party on their Mind”). And of course, shelling out millions  and then, unsurprisingly, billions is as stress free as delivering dialogues (and in a way, that’s what they are: dialogues).

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.

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Perhaps that is the problem with big, bloated, blockbusters (and mind you, the movie does have “blockbuster” stamped all over): people talk big money and payback as if they have a free-license sanctioned from God Almighty.

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

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Released by UTV, Tips and Geo Films; Race 2 is rated U/A.