4 Very Good

Director duo Abbas-Mustan has carved a niche in Bollywood with their brilliant filmography and track record. They enhanced their credibility with Race, considered as one of the best suspense thrillers to have come out from Bollywood. The manner in which every character had hidden agendas up their sleeve and the manner in which the twists and turns were executed gave a brilliant thrill to the viewers like never before. And as the sequel, Race 2, hits the theatres, expectations are bound to by skyhigh. Viewers after all would expect much more than what Race had offered. Unfortunately, Abbas-Mustan fails to reach to the level or outshine Race. Having said that, Race 2 has its moments, plenty of them, and the typical Abbas-Mustan brilliance aided by glitz and glamour makes Race 2 a superbly entertaining watch!

The story of the movie: Ranvir Singh (Saif Ali Khan) is having a great time in Cyprus when tragedy strikes. To avenge, he travels to Istanbul and with the help of his trusted aide, R D (Anil Kapoor), comes across a wealthy tycoon Armaan Malik (John Abraham) and his sister Aleena (Deepika Padukone). He finds himself attracted to Aleena and on the other hand, he is also not able to resist Armaan’s girlfriend Omisha (Jacqueline Fernandez). Ranveer waits for the right opportunity and soon chugs his plan into motion. However, Armaan is as smart (or maybe smarter). Hence, although Ranveer is a brilliant planner, locking horns with Armaan might not be a good idea and can prove fatal as well.

Abbas-Mustan has a certain distinct style of filmmaking that is always a treat, even in their not-so-good films. Race 2 is no exception and it’s fun to see how things unfold. Like Race 1, Anil Kapoor introduces the character and situation in his own jhakaas style. The train robbery and the entire track involving Vikram Thappar (Rajesh Khattar) was brilliant and quite hilarious. Things get even better as film progresses and the chase sequence of Cyprus was the best part of the first half. It does get long and slightly over the top after a point, but who cares?! It was meant to entertain and it does it very well. The biggest trademark Abbas-Mustan style twist comes at the intermission point and beautifully prepares the ground for the second hour.

The film turns into a heist drama in the second half and while the twists and turns are aplenty, it doesn’t make that kind of impact. Few of them are predictable; after all, after watching Race and Players, one is well-versed with Abbas-Mustan’s style and hence one can foresee what is coming. Yet, there’s a charm in the duo’s direction. Despite knowing at few places what’s gonna happen next, one still looks forward to the film thanks to the fast-paced and engrossing treatment. The theft in the pre-climax was fun (although a friend rightly pointed out that it was unnecessarily complex). The fight in the climax seemed unimpressive at first but gets better and the manner in which few characters emerge victorious in the end was just brilliant!

Every actor plays his act well and look quite glamorous. Saif Ali Khan yet again delivers a commendable performance. He looks quite dashing with the beard and seems to be thoroughly enjoying the grey character of Mr Singh! John Abraham is suave and shows his great side as well. Watch out for him in the cage fight where he delivers his best shot! Deepika Padukone never looked so sexy and gives a fabulous performance too. Anil Kapoor was in his element but he hardly had anything to do. Wish his role was meatier because his character has the ability to enhance the fun! Jacqueline Fernandez sizzles and leaves a mark too. She looks quite cool in the fencing and archery sequences. Ameesha Patel wonderfully balances her cuteness and sizzling quotient. Aditya Pancholi (as Godfather Hamza or was it Anza or Ranza or something else?) was decent. He seems a good bet for playing larger-than-life rich characters; he did it in Rush and does well in Race 2 as well. Rajesh Khattar was hilarious. Bipasha Basu looks lovely in a special appearance.

Pritam’s music is peppy. Barring Be Intehaan, the rest of the songs – Party On My Mind, Lat Lag Gayi and Allah Duhai Hai – are well incorporated in the film and nicely presented too. Salim-Sulaiman’s background score is exhilarating and enhances impact in several scenes. Ravi Yadav’s cinematography is brilliant and the lensman wonderfully captures the locales of Europe and Istanbul. Hussain Burmawala’s editing is slick and plays a great role in getting the twists and turns right. Special mention should also go to stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania. Thanks to her, the actors looked quite appealing! Peter Heins’ action makes for an exciting watch! VFX however was substandard at several places.

Kiran Kotrial’s dialogues were sharp and quite witty. Shiraz Ahmed’s story and screenplay had all the ingredients of an ideal suspense thriller. More importantly, it was overall original (although a few nuances did remind one of films of the West). Abbas-Mustan’s direction as always was sans complaint. The script might be very complex, there might be several twists and turns but yet, viewers will never get confused or find it difficult to comprehend their films and this is indeed a great feat. Although they had an original script in hand, the problem rested with the ‘Race’ style narrative, wherein it became easy at places to guess who is playing games with who. Cinematic liberties are aplenty and at few places, one wonders how cops, airport officials, Interpol etc never intervene or thwart the activities of our heroes. However, the director duo were anyways never known for being practical or as they say, realistic, in their films and they compensate for their flaws with their brilliant direction. Though not matching upto Race, still a great job by Abbas-Mustan!

On the whole, Race 2 is a fast-paced exhilarating entertainer. It is nowhere close to Race and few twists in the second half are predictable. Yet, the film is worth watching for its execution, script, action, performances, style-glamour and visually appealing locales. At the box office, the film has taken a huge opening and shall sustain well over the weekend. As with any Abbas-Mustan film, Race 2 has quite a few cinematic liberties. Stay miles away from the film if you are a ‘But-Hollywood-Comes-Up-With-Better-Stuff-And-Bollywood-Is-Inferior’ kind of a moviegoer! Those who enjoy Abbas-Mustan flicks and slick action films, this one’s a treat! Go for it…Race to your nearest theatre now!