Five years ago, in 2008, the Tauranis and Abbas-Mustan delivered a taut, enthralling thriller in RACE. The intricate plot, the serpentine twists and turns in the narrative, good looking men and women double crossing each other, the dazzling locations and the adrenaline pumping stunts and chases left an ineradicable impression on the heart and mind of the moviegoer. Besides, the super success of the film at the BO fuelled rumors that its sequel was on the cards. The badshaahs of thrillers, Abbas-Mustan, had to come up with the next installment, carrying the franchise forward.
Not every movie that's triumphant merits a sequel, but RACE is the kind of genre [besides its conclusion] that justifies a sequel. The second installment, as a result, comes with a weighty baggage. It has to outshine the first part in terms of content, ought to be more majestic in terms of look and canvas. Most significantly, it ought to outdistance the first part at the BO. So is the follow up a worthy fare or is it merely capitalizing on the popular brand?
Let me state at the very outset that RACE 2 doesn't entirely meet the monstrous expectations. Abbas-Mustan, coupled with screenwriter Shiraz Ahmed, have put together a motion picture that's stylish and engaging, with an international look and feel. The first hour is dedicated to the vengeance aspect, while the latter half focuses on the heist, which takes the graph of the film down. More on that later!
RACE 2 starts off from where RACE concluded. Ranveer [Saif Ali Khan] decides to avenge the death of his fiancÃ©e Sonia [Bipasha Basu] and for that he travels to Turkey, where he encounters some new people in this journey [John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ameesha Patel], besides some people he had encountered earlier [Anil Kapoor].
RACE 2 takes off with a bang. Literally. The chase that ensues soon after the blast, the introduction of the key players in the second installment, the sub-plots, the volatile games, the twists and turns... Abbas-Mustan and Shiraz Ahmed are on the right track all through the first hour. As a matter of fact, the first hour is very well knit. Everyone seems to be a double crosser here; the men are crooks and the women, devious. Also, Abbas-Mustan make sure they astonish you at every step. The twists and turns keep you captivated. In fact, just when you think this would be the last twist, another one leaps from nowhere, catching you by complete surprise. There's hardly any dull moment in this hour.
The post-interval portions start with gusto, but the writing isn't foolproof. A few episodes are electrifying [John's combat with Typhoon is remarkable]. Also, the heist is well executed. But the director duo and writer should've packed a solid punch in this hour, especially in its concluding act. The finale, inside the aircraft, should've been spellbinding. It evokes mixed feelings. The back story between Sonia [Bipasha] and Malik [John] is missing. Why? Additionally, the Anil Kapoor-Ameesha Patel track doesn't work. One doesn't mind double entendres, but some of the lines between them are in poor taste, frankly.
The soundtrack is lilting, though, I wish to add, the first part had better music. The background score [Salim-Sulaiman] is exhilarating. The action/chase sequences are top notch, with every stunt looking well choreographed. Cinematography [Ravi Yadav] is exceptional and the spectacular locales are a visual treat. Dialogue [Kiran Kotrial] are commanding at times, especially those between Saif and John. Editing [Hussain Burmawala] has always played an integral role in all Abbas-Mustan movies and the ace editor gives remarkable finish to the frames that have been filmed dexterously. The visual effects are tacky.
Like the first part, the characters in RACE 2 have grey shades. Saif plays the elegant guy with poise, while John enacts his part with gusto. As a matter of fact, Saif and John lend so much zing to their respective parts that it's difficult to decide who's better. Deepika has the best scenes in the film. She looks stunning and immerses herself into her character completely. Jacqueline looks gorgeous too, but her character is sidelined after a point. Anil and Ameesha's parts appear forced. Aditya Pancholi is proficient. Rajesh Khattar does well. Bipasha Basu is hardly there.
On the whole, RACE 2 has a rocking first half, glam and glitz, great looking men and women, spectacular locales, extravagant making, adrenaline pumping action and of course, a solid brand that's gonna make moviegoers flock the cineplexes initially, but the film lacks the sustaining power thanks to its uneven second half. The writing isn't watertight, the film lacks a hit score, the climax is far from effective and overall, RACE 2 pales in comparison to RACE.