When you find yourself longing for the next appearance of a car, rather than the leading man, that’s not a good sign.
That’s the main problem (among many) with Race 3, the highly anticipated 3D Bollywood action-adventure from director Remo D’Souza.
The car is a $3 million Bugatti Chiron, first glimpsed as it pulls into the driveway of a seven-star hotel in Abu Dhabi. Silhouetted against the city’s washed-out brown skyline, the car seems to glow, its liquid silver paint job and taut, flowing design made even more striking in 3D (this review is based on the 3D version).
The leading man is Salman Khan, one of India’s most bankable stars, clocking in for his yearly Eid holiday release. Khan shoots, rides, romances and fights on cue, even tearing his t-shirt off for a climactic fight scene as he’s done in innumerable films before. But despite the (literal) pyrotechnics, Khan delivers an uncommitted, lackluster performance that isn’t helped by Shiraz Ahmed’s cliché-riddled screenplay.
Race 3 — which, like its two predecessors, plays fast and loose with backstory — tracks the exploits of an extended family of lovable arms dealers. Since the nature of their business attracts the corrupt and unsavory, there’s plenty of opportunity for double- and triple-crossing. Nefarious politicians, crime dons, illicit arms dealers and femmes fatales with dresses cut up to here populate scene after scene, set amid the Gulf’s glittering nightclubs, luxury hotels and wide-open desert highways.
Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire, Mission: Impossible —Ghost Protocol) adds a suave touch and Daisy Shah kills it in her martial arts-inspired stunt scenes, while charismatic former Miss Sri Lanka Jacqueline Fernandez shows off a heretofore unknown talent for pole dancing.
Helmer Remo D’Souza — taking over from directing duo Abbas and Mustan Burmawalla — is the wrong person for the job. An accomplished choreographer (and director of one of Bollywood’s most exciting dance movies, ABCD — Any Body Can Dance), D’Souza seems too distracted by pyrotechnics to focus on getting believable performances from his cast. By presenting every lengthy fight scene in ultra-slow motion, he needlinessly draws out the film to an endless, nearly three-hour run time.
Khan’s career remains as bulletproof as ever. After serving time in jail earlier this year on poaching charges, he’s back making movies, running a charity and even headlining a live stage show touring the U.S. And Race 3 seems to be bulletproof as well: The film has already turned a profit through satellite and streaming deals.
Like the two mindless actioners that came before it, Race 3 is light on characterization and heavy on the stylized brand fetishization. But boy, that Bugatti is one sweet ride.
Production companies:Salman Khan Films, Tips Films
Distributor: Yash Raj Films
Cast: Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah
Director: Remo D’Souza
Screenwriter: Shiraz Ahmed
Executive producers: Chandru Bakhtiani, Prakash Talreja
Director of photography: Ayananka Bose
Production designer:Rajnish Hedao
Stunt director: Anal Arasu
Music: Salim Merchant, Sulaiman Merchant
Choreographers: Remo D’Souza, Kruti Mahesh