Movie Review: unless you're desperate for eye candy, give Race 2 a miss
Race 2 has Jaqueline Fernandes, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Saif Ali Khan and they’re all bronzed up and barely clothed; even Anil Kapoor has scenes in which his shirt is very generously unbuttoned
by Ravina Rawal
I’m not going to pretend I walked into this movie for any kind of cerebral gratification or emotional connect. Entertainment, yes; a visual treat, of course — Race 2 has Jaqueline Fernandes, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Saif Ali Khan and they’re all bronzed up and barely clothed; even Anil Kapoor has scenes in which his shirt is very generously unbuttoned (but don’t freak out, he has an all new chest: hairless, 1 nos).
Also, it’s set in Istanbul (Bollywood’s new Switzerland), so the backdrop is lovely. Director duo Abbas-Mustan seems to love money as much as the story’s antagonist Armaan Mallik (Abraham) — they’ve gone all the way with the swish cars, cool gadgets and luxury planes and yachts. Which doesn’t explain the film’s disappointing special effects, especially when cars blow up, but hey, I guess your budget has to run out at some point.
Saif Ali Khan plays shrewd businessman Ranveer Singh, who is out to avenge the death of his lover Sonia (bringing back Bipasha Basu from the original Race in a quick cameo). This means stripping casino king Armaan Mallik of his empire and wealth, because Singh believes that sort of thing is even more painful than death for a man so obsessed with money, both his and everybody else’s.
Enter Mallik’s “half-sister, full shaani” Elena (Padukone), who owns half the empire and starts out trying to be ruthless (one of the first scenes shows her on the dance floor of a nightclub, casually shooting the man who denied her permission to open more casinos), then even helpful, before settling for just being hot and doing that well.
The other woman in Mallik’s life is petty thief, girlfriend and partner in crime Omisha (Fernandes). Or wait, is she Singh’s partner in crime? No, that can’t be right — she’s on Malik’s side. What about Mallik himself — does he know what’s up, or is he clueless? Is Singh playing them or is he being played? Also under suspicion as far as loyalty goes is ex-Inspector Robert D’Costa aka RD (Anil Kapoor), who spends most of his screen time shoveling an assortment of fruit down his throat, and being shadowed by his highly cheery, too-ditzy-to-be-true assistant, Cherry (Ameesha Patel).
Of all the roles in all the world, this is one of the few I expected her to be able to nail, but her attempt is too laborious to actually be endearing. However, because she’s the only person whose loyalties are never under question, you’ll find yourself able to ignore her for the most part.
100 things happen before a ‘solid plan’ is arrived at, and there begins an action-packed heist of some sort. For some peculiar reason, the only conceivable answer to everybody’s problems lies in the acquiring (stealing) of the Shroud of Turin.
Cut to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in northern Italy, where this Shroud has been restored and displayed, under impossibly high security conditions. Impossible till, you know, it’s show time for Singh, and restoration time for the Shroud—because that’s when suddenly it’s as easy as guessing that “BYGOD” or “GOODBYE” is the pass code to enter this high security room, and stealing that Shroud is nothing short of a cakewalk—really, why bother with real world obstacles in a film that otherwise almost prides itself on ludicrous premises?
If you’re still giving the story any benefit of doubt, a fight sequence that takes place mid-air, between broken aircraft windows and open airplane doors will make you wish you’d never admitted to wanting to make sense of things.
And you shouldn’t — because it will give you a headache. All those twists and turns and surprises and tested loyalties start to get tiresome pretty quickly, tempting you to zone out and see Race 2 for what it really is: any other big-budget film, with young hot actors and a commitment to high style. Salim-Sulaiman’s background score beats the actual movie soundtrack, leaving only one or two actual songs (like Party On My Mind, which is already a hit at clubs and weddings, no doubt as intended) that warrant a second listen .
Unless you’re really hankering for some eye candy and popcorn, this one is a safe miss. Like Omisha clarifies at some point: “Men are many, but money is money.” Replace ‘men’ with ‘movies’. That.