The high-end gloss a la Race is intact but not the riveting twists and turns that had delighted the original. Race 2 remains, alas, a well-produced tourist pamphlet for Turkey, Cyprus and Europe.
The plot: A stranger, beefy Ranvir Singh (Saif Ali Khan arising out of the water like Bo Derek), arrives in sin town run by casino owners Armaan Mallik (John Abraham) and Vikram Thapar (Rajesh Khattar). And he’s out to put them both out of business.
The good: Without a doubt, brawn tops the game as the two men, Saif and John, make better visuals than the effete Jacqueline (playing pouty Omisha) or the inconsequential Ameesha Patel (air-head Cherry). To play Armaan’s step-sister, Elena, Deepika’s stylist seems to have had a one-line instruction from the director-duo: every outfit must be slit long with a neckline dipping into her waistline. But she does carry it off with élan.
Saif has his perpetual frown-on-the-forehead in place while John is best at what the duo make him do – look handsome as the rich kameena and ooze sex appeal as the street fighter.
The locales are breathtakingly beautiful but didn’t we just see them all in the recent Bond outing Skyfall? There are two very well shot sequences, a chase between Saif and a hitman and a bout in the ring with John and an unknown. The problem with both is that when a star is pitted against an unknown, the outcome is a given right at the outset. So you just wait it out patiently – for they are prolonged sequences – knowing that the killer punch will eventually come from the star.
The bad: Oh boy, where do we start? For one, Abbas-Mustan must know that the days when people flocked to see only great locales and a line-up of sexy bods are well and truly over. Where is the content? Don’t take a bow Shiraz Ahmed for the story and screenplay. At 146 minutes, a lot could go back to the editing table for crisper viewing.
Race is all about pace and it’s precisely here that the sequel seriously stumbles – the first half is long without much happening and when you come to the second, where the story finally gets going, it heads in one predictable direction. Because, going by filmland hierarchy, you know who will be the eventual master of the game. So the deceit and double cross, even the untimely death of a hero, don’t intrigue as you simply sit back and await the inevitable return of the ‘dead’.
You don’t look for logic in what’s supposed to be a thriller but the tardy pace gives you time to wonder about the gaffes. eg. If Armaan knew all about Ranvir before he had met him because of a video he had earlier seen, how did Thapar, who had given it to him in the first place, stumble into the trap?
The fruit-munching track of RD-Cherry (Anil Kapoor-Ameesha Patel) lacks spark and doesn’t bring the same smile as Anil-Sameera did in the original. (Curious aside: in his sole bedroom scene, how did Anil’s famous bear chest turn so clean shaven?)
The music by Pritam is quite deplorable, perking up only when the familiar strains of ‘Allah duhayi hai...’ from the original creep in. The songs are all forced in and don’t blend in well. eg. After Saif and Jacqueline have purportedly discovered each other’s identity in a hotel room and know that it’s a hands-off each other mission, the very next sequence has her inexplicably flirting with him at the bar before breaking into a ‘hot’ number. There is, incidentally, no quality match with the ‘Zara zara zara touch me, touch me, touch me...’ seduction that Katrina Kaif made famous in the first Race.
Overall: Worth a watch for beefcake and beautiful visuals.
– Bharathi S Pradhan