Salman Khan Struts Around Like A Clueless Stuntman

Cast: Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, Daisy Shah, Bobby Deol, Saqib Saleem, Freddy Daruwala

Director: Remo D’Souza

Rating: 1.5 stars (out of 5)

The formula – a bunch of super-rich blokes and bling-bedecked broads gypping each other in a game involving power, pelf and perfidy – has worn awfully thin. No amount of surface gloss and ‘explosive’ action can lend a fresh veneer to the rickety vehicle that Race 3 is. With all the junk in the trunk, it delivers a ride that is bumpy, noisy and aimless. Salman Khan throws his box-office weight behind the scrappy enterprise, but the unimaginatively scripted thriller can only plod its way through a heap of inanities. Served up ill-advisedly in 3D, the bluff and bluster are amplified beyond endurance.

Helmed by Remo D’Souza, Race 3 is a dance of dunces that hits a convoluted track from the moment it kicks off. The game has too many players and not enough rules to keep them sane. It is about the family of an unscrupulous global arms dealer, Shamsher Singh (Anil Kapoor). They embark on a mission to rob a hard disk from the high-security vault of a Cambodian bank with the intention of blackmailing Indian politicians caught in a prostitution ring.
The back-stabbing siblings and their slimy aides, riding fast cars, attired in tailored suits and wielding snazzy guns, play down and dirty with each other and pry into each other’s private lives with spy cameras. They dig up a lot of dirt but eventually it is the audience that is at the receiving end of the biggest con – the film itself.

The screenplay is abysmal, the dialogues insufferably banal, the performances perfunctory and the final outcome a sorry wreck of a movie that blows up more automobiles per capita than a Rohit Shetty flick has ever done. The pyrotechnics are in place. What the film lacks is genuine firepower.
Some in the audience might be charitable enough to describe Race 3 as a slick and stylish actioner designed for Salman Khan and, therefore, beyond the purview of critical nitpicking. Sure, but shouldn’t a movie, no matter how cinematically unambitious, go beyond the lure of creative lethargy? Race 3 makes no effort at all in that direction.

It puts far too much store by the lead actor’s star power to feel the need to focus attention on the more significant aspects of filmmaking and the rest of the cast. In the bargain, neither its pace nor its slew of thrills are hot enough to carry it over the finishing line in one coherent piece. Well, the climax of Race 3 does pack some punch – both Salman and Bobby drop their shirts in a desert duel – but it is, in the end, a case of too little too late. The characters do a lot of running and flying but are always up against the headwinds of vacuous cliches and hollow wisecracks. One character says to another: “Ussey dil nahi, Dell khol ke dikhao.” The computer screen that the camera turns to on cue reveals an incriminating surveillance video that is meant to carry the story forward. Product placement has never had it so easy in a Bollywood potboiler.
You don’t need enemies when you have a family like this: that is what the members of the Singh clan in Race 3 are telling us. If the purpose of that is to sum up the film’s noir aspirations, it is of no avail. The film is too flashy and shallow to pass muster as an addition to a generic tradition that has its admirers the world over – and for good reason. The Race 3 characters come nowhere near attaining any kind of kinship with those that the likes of Humphrey Bogart or Edward G. Robinson embodied in film noir entries that have stood the test of time. But who is surprised?

Anil Kapoor, the oldest and longest surviving member of the Race family, seems to be the only one who knows what to expect from the guys, gals and toys around him. He seems to be having fun lapsing into faux bhaiyaji lingo – he is from a village near Allahabad and even though he now lords over a mammoth business empire on an island named Al-Shifah, he longs to return home one day.
Jessica, the seductress portrayed by Jacqueline Fernandez, says after one of the many shocks that the film springs upon us: “Itne jhatke, when is this going to end, man?” Not anytime soon! This franchise isn’t done yet – Race 3 ends with both Salman’s invincible hero, Sikandar Singh, Shamsher’s blue-eyed boy, and the patriarch pointing to the possibility of a fourth instalment. For a critic who has suffered enough, that has the ring of a not-so-veiled threat.
The rest of the Race 3 cast – Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Saqib Saleem and Daisy Shah – take their on-screen jobs with misplaced earnestness. They are given lines like “Main paida hi weird hui hoon (I was born weird)” and “Our business is our business, none of your business” to spout, but they go through the motions in all seriousness. If they are occasionally funny, it is only unintentionally so.
And with the lead actor strutting around like a clueless stuntman in the midst of flying bullets and exploding cars, all the high-voltage action is about as exciting as a three-hour-long sitting at the dentist’s.
Some of the Race 3 action, the credits tell us, has been choreographed by Thomas Struthers, the stunt coordinator of blockbusters like Black Panther, The Dark Knight and Dunkirk. He simply isn’t given the raw material needed to turn the film into an outing to remember. Our humble guess is that Struthers would want to forget Race 3 in a hurry. And so would we. Try telling fans of Salman Khan that this film is best avoided. An impregnable wall is what you will hit.

Vroom, vroom? No, vamoose!

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