Movie Review: ‘Race 3’
Opened: 15 June 2018
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah, Saqib Saleem, Freddy Daruwala
Director: Remo D'Souza
Producers: Ramesh Taurani, Salma Khan
There is a scene in Race 3, where Salman Khan and Jacqueline Fernandez, cornered by some Cambodian Army soldiers near a cliff, jump out through the sunroof of their getaway truck and do a base jump in wing suits off said cliff to get away from their pursuers. This is an incredibly self-referential and metaphorical moment for the film, as it predicts its own nosedive and death, aping the myth of lemmings hurtling towards their death off cliffs!
There is so much that could have gone right with Race 3. A Bhai film, an Eid release, the third instalment of the commercially successful Race franchise. Yet, the script is so banal it feels like a rejected entry for a story writing competition for 10 year olds for an English class. But then, do you ever need a real script for a Bhai vehicle? The writers, and the director (Remo D’Souza of ABCD and F.A.L.T.U fame), certainly seem to think not and they lazily rely on the superstar's box office clout and massive fan following to salvage the film as he lazily smirks, winks, shoots and punches his way through the film.
The plot of the movie revolves around Shamsher Singh (Anil Kapoor), an illegal arms dealer in Al Shifa (presumably the UAE) and his fraternal twins, Sanjana (Daisy Shah), Suraj (Saqib Saleem), his nephew Sikander (Salman Khan), Sikander’s Man Friday Yash (Bobby Deol), and a mysterious woman Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez). We are led to believe that Sikander is hated by Suraj and Sanjana for their father’s preferential treatment of Sikander (and on a side note, we're also expected to believe a 61 year old youthful-looking Anil Kapoor is uncle to a haggard 52 year old Salman Khan), while overlooking his own children and plot and scheme to remove Sikander from the family business and home.
Sikander launches his own counter attack against them with the aid of Yash and Jessica, while Shamsher, who had previously fled his beloved village of Handiya for the UAE overnight due to the threat of being attacked by some corrupt politicians, hatches a plan to blackmail other corrupt politicians with the end goal of clearing his name and living a comfortable retired life in his native village. But everyone has an ulterior motive and tries to one up each other, while Bhai proudly proclaims that he will save his family no matter what, because, they are, after all, a family. As is expected from a Race film, there are various twists and turns along the way which lead to a rather tepid climax, where, after Bhai saves the day, he breaks the fourth wall and tells us that this may not be the end of this saga. But does anyone want this ‘saga’ to be continued at all?
The problem with Race 3 is that it tries to bank off the previous Race films without reusing or recreating any of the strengths of the previous films. Whereas the previous films worked because of a fast pace, a penchant for having twist after twist, good music, Abbas-Mustan as directors and an incredibly debonair and suave Saif Ali Khan believably mouthing seeti-inducing one-liners, this film suffers from an incredibly slow pace, second-half only twists (it’s almost, as if, the writers hastily added in plot twists as an afterthought), weak music and of course, no Saif Ali Khan or Abbas-Mustan. The film tries to make up for it by having larger-than-life action sequences and CGI effects, with Bhai smoothly declaring just before the intermission that he’s the ‘asliSikander’ of this race (this, I’m sure, will induce a lot of seetis). To prove this point, he defies the laws of physics and attemps base jumps with wingsuits (where he takes off, flies and lands like a plane and taxis peacefully), manages to dodge an entire literal army of Cambodian soldiers armed with only a revolver and motorbike, smirks at his enemies when they threaten to finish him, drives a lot of fast cars (there are Rolls Royces, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bugattis on display) and in the film’s penultimate reels, manages to defy science even further by tearing off a button-down shirt and having a shirtless one-on-one fight with Bobby Deol while also setting off GPS-tracked missiles from a bazooka-reminiscent hand-held missile launcher. By the time the film rolls around to this juncture, however, it's dragged so much that there’s no interest in seeing Bhai save the day. One almost feels sorry for Remo D’Souza to have taken on a film that he was clearly not equipped to handle, and his choreographer background is highlighted as the songs are glossily shot and slickly choreographed, which is in contrast to other scenes, which lack the gasp-inducing punch that Abbas-Mustan have given in the past.
But it’s not all Remo’s fault. The film is poorly edited with unnecessary plot embellishments and devices (as an example, Anil Kapoor’s Shamsher is caught up in an arms race with villain Rana (Freddy Daruwala), whose entire plot arc the film could have done without), the dialogues are banal and laughable (in one scene, Daisy Shah sneers at a bank loan manager and says the now-viral line “Our business is our business, none of your business”, while, in another, a frustrated Saqib says he’s “sick of this Sikku”), and the cinematography is hazy (for some reason, a light yellow filter is used throughout the film to enhance the desert setting). Even the central theme of family cannot hold a film together that takes itself way too seriously.
The acting leaves a lot to be desired as well. Daisy Shah frowns throughout and Saqib tries too hard to pull off the ‘yuppie millennial’ shtick (he calls everyone ‘bro’). It’s disconcerting to see Saqib, who’d earlier shown so much promise, in this avatar. Jacqueline looks fit as usual but doesn’t add anything new to any of her recent performances. The only two people who appear interested in the film are Bobby Deol and Anil Kapoor, who inject some vitality into a rather tired film. It’s great to see 90s heartthrob Bobby again on the big screen (and he’s clearly been working on a six pack during his absence), and hopefully this opens up more doors for him. Anil Kapoor is fantastic as the devious Shamsher (and also, the only original cast member to have starred in all three films thus far) and proves, once again, how reliable an actor he is. He mouths his Bhojpuri dialogues with ease (an obvious attempt to cash in on the rising viewership of the Bhojpuri audience) and glares with believable menace. Salman is a real let down and sleepwalks through his role, showing no interest in trying to salvage the film, even though the film relies heavily on him to do so, and all the while looking haggard in his close up shots, of which there are many.
As if this weren’t bad enough, the story is set up for another instalment at the end with Salman telling us that there will be another Race without confirming his own presence in it. This almost feels like he's washing his hands off this franchise, which is a wise move given that it's a complete and utter turd.