Bang Bang! review: Hrithik, Katrina show how explosively dumb Bollywood can be
Bang Bang! proves that big budgets don’t make a lick of a difference on the entertainment scale.
The power of money, a gigantic truckload of it, can turn a potentially fun movie into bland codswallop, aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator of film audiences. There are plenty of Bollywood films of that sort every year, and it looks like we have a new champion in Siddharth Anand’s Bang Bang!.
If there's anything in the world more painful than watching a bland expensive movie, it is watching a bland expensive movie based on another bland expensive movie. Bang Bang! proves that big budgets don’t make a lick of a difference on the entertainment scale and that it doesn’t matter whether a Bollywood film is an official or an unofficial remake. The execution is going to be exactly the same – awful.
As you probably already know, Bang Bang! is a remake of Knight and Day, the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz failure. It remains to be seen why the producers of this film thought it would be a good idea to throw money at remaking a critical and box office disappointment.
Knight and Day is a deconstruction of what made Tom Cruise famous – a parody of his Ethan Hunt character, with a dash of self-aware comedy revolving around a damsel in distress. Bang Bang! is about how morons can gasp in awe at Hrithik Roshan prancing topless in glamorous, foreign locations. And the comedy regarding the female character isn’t self-aware. It’s the traditional Bollywood flavour of dumbness. In both films, the plot involves the heroine mistakenly being involved with a spy’s mission and eventually falling in love with him. But the biggest similarity between the two movies is that they both feature a lead star who is capable of much more.
So desperately does Bang Bang! want to be loved and equated to Hollywood’s level that it takes us through super exotic locales, with international gundas, and action sequences as tackily designed as in Dhoom. If you’re going to make a Bollywood action drama on such a large scale, it needs to be actually as good as Hollywood’s best (first half of D Day), or go the whole hog with over the top hilarity (Endhiran). Bang Bang! is too scared (or talentless) to be on either side and ends up taking a wee in between.
Roshan brandishes a badass machine gun in one scene and swings on a rope like Tarzan in a concrete jungle in the next. He has an over-emotional, glycerin-enriched showdown with the chief villain (Danny Denzongpa) in one scene, and goes right back to tomfoolery by jet skiing clumsily while shooting at henchmen on a boat. An admirer of action movies would have precisely one response to all this – “give me a break.” The chase scenes and the explosions and the shootouts aren’t thrilling; they’re boring. A lot of money was thrown around to make the sets and action look ‘big budget’ and like Hollywood, but there is little artistry or talent involved.
The songs aren’t very pleasant either and the dance numbers are awkward at best. Imagine if Cruise and Diaz suddenly stopped shooting bullets and broke into song and dance – that’s exactly how it feels watching Bang Bang!. Nothing here is natural. It’s all very wannabe and embarrassing. Even the best scenes from Knight and Day, where we see bombastic action from the point of view of a sleepy and drugged Diaz, are clumsily realised here. It feels like what Abbas Mustan did with The Italian Job in Players, minus the rib tickling unintentional comedy. Anand came close to that level in his previous disaster Ta Ra Rum Pum in which a race car driver loses his career because of the evils of EMI. That Anand continues to convince producers to give him money to make big budget foreign set atrocities is laudable.
Aside from Roshan, there's not one acting performance that ranks above sleepwalking and Katrina Kaif does her best to stand out with her onscreen ineptitude. Sure, they both look good and the movie isn’t aimed at people looking for masterly acting, but why would anyone sit through three hours of this if they can just download Google Images of the two stars? With Bhaag Milkha and now Bang Bang!, Pawan Malhotra continues his yearly big budget cash grab to be able to work in smaller films. The most striking thing about Denzongpa is that he hasn’t aged at all since twenty years and it’s a little sad to see him trying to bring some sense of dignity to a colossally dumb movie.
Considering what it cost to make, Bang Bang! would take some seriously insane word of mouth to make any profit. Hopefully, someone will look at the numbers and realise that bigger sets and more money don’t necessarily make a better film, even for the lowest common denominator demographic. This is yet another assembly-line piece of mediocrity from the fine product merchants of Bollywood.
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