Tejas Nair | June 16, 2018
Rating – 2/10
If you look at director Remo D’Souza’s filmography you will see a clear description of the change in his thematic material – from films about youngsters and dance to films about superhero and exaggeration. It is obvious that he has no specific cause in mind about the art form, which is again validated by the downward trend of the quality of conflict in his films. Race 3 is perhaps his weakest and most nonsensical feature film so far, but more so because it has vandalized a franchise that began with Abbas-Mustan’s superb thriller in 2008.
In the same vein of familial drama and subversion of its predecessors of gradually decreasing sense, Anil Kapoor plays the head of an affluent arms dealing family who is out now to expand its business to India, which he fled from as a young man years ago. Now he wants to go back and settle there, and helping him do that are his children (Saqib Saleem and Daisy Shah), step-son (Salman Khan), and long-time confidant (Bobby Deol). As you can predict, things get weirder, and therefore messier, when these main characters show their real color to each other, rather unceremoniously. Watching Race 3 and its twists unfold in the most lukewarm manner – where characters talk to the camera to bring them out – is arguably the biggest issue that hampers its proceedings. Any film that requires a narrative introduction of the characters or when the characters themselves start “revealing” the plot details, you know that it is going to be a dumb film made just to bank in on one or more of its actors’ fame. With Race 3, you know who it is, because the name’s all over the place in the credits.
Adding to the contrived nonsensical story are the slipshod dialogues written by Shiraz Ahmed, which feel like they were written by funny drunk uncles at a nightcap session. Hearing them being uttered by expressionless actors (Khan, for instance) who flex their torso muscles rather than doing that with their face, invoking unintended laughter, can put off even the most loyal of fans.
With strong Fast and Furious vibes coming in from each and every sequence (high-octane chases involving sports cars, utterance of the word “parivar”, meaning family, at least a dozen times, and even a ripoff soundtrack from the Tokyo Drift (2006) version), Race 3 heads for the obvious (self-destruction) as it churns out twist after twist, and makes its characters do random things. Director D’Souza uses exotic locations and glam to attract his audience, and then makes them stay by using funny innuendos through a language like Bhojpuri, which ultimately makes the characters look bad. He obviously does not care making his characters look retarded, because at one point they have high-tech weapons at their disposal (sensor-based bombs), and at the other, they act dumb and talk to the camera in an attempt to break the fourth wall.
It also has the usual issues like desi CGI made using Windows Movie Maker, pretentious drama between the family members (Saleem and Shah’s characters call each other ‘bro’), unnecessary songs in the middle of a heist, and unusual focus on Khan, his hairdo, and his torso. I could create a list of issues, and I would still rate that list more than I have rated this film that is not only written shoddily but has been shot and edited like a trailer that you would make for your high school sweetheart using shots from popular films (circa 2007).
Bollywood actor and fine-man Aamir Khan botched up what was going well with the Dhoom series, and here we have D’Souza and Khan doing the same with the Race series. Unfortunately, it is Deol who tries to mimic Aamir Khan from his Dhoom 3 (2013) scenes as he enters the film on a motorbike flying from an invisible wall and then shooting down a dozen enemies. But had we had Kapoor’s character in the same sequence, he would simply take out his gun and shoot the motorbike into flames, as he does at least two times in the film. It’s appallingly upsetting to see all the action scenes in the film (including a cat-fight between Fernandez and Shah that has been conveniently prepared for the male gaze), because you can neither call Race 3 a technical thriller nor an action movie.
Throughout the film I was looking for an appropriate word to describe the whole drama, but then I was struck by the awful cast performance. Khan is a bonafide joker who, as I have mentioned before, uses his body muscles to act. He is lethargic in his performance and keeps a wooden, constipation-driven face throughout the 150 minutes of the film. His exceptional dancing skills hardly help here, because they are picturised on songs that seem to be sung by people who were put on a fasting streak for three weeks. Next comes Deol as this mind game player who competes with Khan at keeping a wooden face. His shiny sunglasses act better than him, which is why D’Souza makes him take out his shirt at the end with the hope of improvement in his acting. None of that comes to his rescue as he is shown as a sidekick here with hardly any importance or style. Shah and Saleem play spoiled brats and regard themselves very highly, which makes their acting over-the-top at all times. Shah uses her looks and ridiculous dialogues to hide her amateur acting while doe-eyed Saleem fails to play that careless young gun of a multi-millionaire. Seeing them act siblings on-screen makes me never want to have a sibling – that is the level of hyperbole and tasteless drama that they enact. Jacqueline Fernandez is the second eye-candy, and plays the love interest of at least two men. And that’s about it, except maybe a pole dancing performance. Kapoor starts well and almost wins the best actor award in this ensemble cast, but because of his awful jokes and terrible comic timing that hardly sit with the theme of the film, I would give that honor to Sharat Saxena, the only actor who puts up a decent show here. Unfortunately, he only talks for about 2 minutes.
There are a lot of kinks in this contrived drama of a vengeful family which only succeeds in creating noise. Even the ensemble cast cannot do justice to the story that has no logic or structure, and which also had shades of lowbrow action thrillers we have seen coming out from the West. I have never been so sure at not recommending a film before as I have with Race 3, not because it was a terrible experience, but because there’s the horror of a Race 4 in the horizon. And sustaining that would take a lot of courage and determination. Race 3 is a bad “circus show” with the only difference emerging because of the fact that training animals is a crime.
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