Saturday, 7 January 2012

Players: Movie Review

Director: Abbas-Mustan 
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Neil Mukesh, Bipasha Basu,Sonam Kapoor
Rating: ** 

After making a career out of surreptitiously remaking foreign films forever, director-duo Abbas Mustan have proved their recycling capabilities credibly enough to win the opportunity of directing an 'official' remake of a Hollywood flick. They have stars, budget, virgin locations and also a readymade film (rather two of them) for reference. But that know-all impudence of the directors to Indianize The Italian Job is like having a pizza with Punjabi tadka topping. 

So every clever step from the original is counterbalanced with a brand Bollywood cliche. Like if the film is about gold heist, the lead players ought to have a heart of gold to start with. Which means the 10000-crore robbery is not merely propelled by greed but to achieve that adhura sapna of building a school for orphans!!! 

When it comes to getting the best players for what is claimed to be the world's biggest robbery, all of them conveniently come on a platter and coincidentally from the same country. Further when the robbery goes wrong, the heist flick gets re-moulded as a revenge drama. And last but not the least, a smart-n-subtle climax is substituted by the traditional dishum-dishum ending. Perhaps it's mandatory that the hero break the villain's bones before killing him. How else would the audience get that paisa vasool feeling? Huh! 

The supposedly sophisticated heist film starts with a corny jewelry store robbery that acts as an early eye-opener on what to expect thereon. The big plan here is to loot a locomotive laden with gold bars en route from Russia to Romania. 

The players comprise of the usual suspects - an illusionist (Bobby Deol), a hacker (Neil Mukesh), an explosive expert (Sikander Kher), a prosthetic expert (Omi Vaidya) and a locomotive expert (Bipasha Basu) who is obviously expected to double up as the seductress. And then there is Charlie (Abhishek Bachchan) who has no expertise and perhaps that makes him the group leader. 

When it's an Abbas-Mustan film, you would be betrayed if there are no betrayals. So there's one traitor in the group and rest seek revenge from him. Also it goes without saying that if any of the main leads is eliminated by the interval point, they have to come back from dead in the second half. 

The director-duo have almost run out of their standard set of shock tactics and are falling prey to their own brand, making the suspense flick, more or less, predictable. What ensues is the ordinary one-upmanship between two male rivals, a theme that has already been exploited by the directors to the point of diminishing returns in Ajnabee, Humraaz, Naqaab and Race. 

To the film's merit, the train robbery in the first half is well-conceptualized and thrillingly choreographed in snowy Russian terrains. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the heist in the second half using mini coopers in traffic jam, which was the highlight of the original. 

Amidst slapstick car chase and convoluted execution, the thriller never registers the requisite impact. The pacing is intentionally kept fast to cover up the numerous loopholes in narrative. 

Ravi Yadav's cinematography is competent and the film ably captures the untouched locales of Russia and New Zealand. Allan Amin's action is well-designed. Pritam's music is plain functional. The dialogues are often banal. Another major reason why Players fails to impress is thanks to the mediocre performances by its entire cast. Abhishek Bachchan is passable but lacks the attitude to carry a suave character like this. 

Bobby Deol, in his extended special appearance, appears disinterested and carries a look which seemingly says 'why-am-I-overshadowed-by-Abhishek-Bachchan?' Neil Nitin Mukesh fails to take advantage of the abundant scope that his role offers. Also he lacks the menace that his character demands. 

Bipasha Basu's role seems just an extension of Race. Sikander Kher lacks screen presence. Omi Vaidya is funny at instances but is getting repetitive. Sonam Kapoor should never attempt to seduce or dance or deliver dialogues. In short, she should call it quits. Vinod Khanna is average. And thankfully Aftab Shivdasani is only in a cameo. 

They say 'let the best player win'. Sadly nobody qualifies to be even 'good' here. Game over!

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