Your money or your life? This classic theme is central to Race 2 while jam-packed with action, suspense and romance. Charged with machismo and extravaganza, Race 2 runs as a plot filled with unpredictable twists and turns, making the film absolutely topsy-turvy. Just when you had it all figured out… Indeed, it’s intriguing enough to ease the passage of its lengthy runtime of two and a half hours, but annoying in such a way that the structure of plot twists are wildly abused. There’s sufficient suspense and excitement to survive the whole film, but it lacks rigour and discipline – the mark of a true filmmaker. While Race was promising, it is hard to say the same for Race 2.
In spite of being a sequel to Race, also directed by Abbas-Mastan, a miniscule amount of prior knowledge is required to make sense of the story. Narrated by RD (Anil Kapoor, Slumdog Millionaire), a rather inviting paralanguage provides clear storylines, key characters and their attributes. Setting the film in motion, Ranvir (Saif Ali Khan) enters via northern Cyprus as our protagonist who swindles his way into obtaining five casinos in Turkey. The antagonist, Armaan (John Abraham) is an unscrupulous casino tycoon and he’s accompanied by two beautiful followers, Deepika Padukone who plays Elena, Armaan’s half-sister and partner in crime, and his beguiling fiancée Omisha (Jacqueline Fernandez).
The first half of this thriller is methodical, efficient and tightly shot, but this quickly dissolves, suggesting that the filmmaking process itself suffered a blow to the head. Frankly, some of the lines are just dire. For instance, in a scene (in the second half) where Armaan’s fiancée Omisha comments that he’s an evil genius, he then grabs her by the hips in an intimate fashion, the camera zooms in and he responds: “That’s how I am” enthusiastically. Most seasoned Bollywood filmgoers will struggle not to laugh out loud.
The misleading title might hint towards a story about racing, similar to the likes of The Fast and The Furious etc., but it’s actually about a battle between two men trying to double-cross each other, comparable to Catch Me If You Can, but without the Bollywood sequences and far fewer twists in the plot. Race 2 is certainly full of glamourous people looking perfect throughout. Ranvir always has the clip fixed on his flawless tie and pink shirt, even after crashing his car through a wall on a plane and then driving his car off said plane!
Rarely am I critical of Hindi films nor do I ever think that the Bollywood dance/music sequences are more entertaining than the plot itself, but the hype of Race 2 made it just dissatisfying. It’s fascinating to see the plot unscramble with adequate humour to begin with, but the dialogue is cringeworthy and the witty wordplays reek of cliché; it’s bursting with male chauvinism and misogyny, there were some unnecessary fight scenes and in some measures the objectification of women. Not to mention the horrible CGI for a film that was meant to be a huge production.