When Mini-Reviews Attack! Day 3: Players
Sweet Bindu on a biscuit—you know, like "Christ on a cracker!" but filmier!— this is a terrible, terrible movie. Its only substantial benefits are: 1) that it dresses Vinod Khanna like a nerdy professor (and, to my surprise, gives him top billing)
and 2) it has an excellent villain lair, which I plan to discuss in greater detail in a later post. [SPOILER] However, when Vinod is gunned down in the middle of the film, his death scene is embarrassing. I have every faith in him as a thespian but he was either really out to lunch in that scene or playing it for laughs in a way that had so little to do with anything else that it fell flat on its face. [END SPOILER]
Admittedly, it is at times howlariously bad, and therefore it might have some comedic so-bad-it's-good value at a slumber party or similarly jolly gathering if everyone is loopy from Doritos or box wine or crack. But mostly it is just plain bad. Because this movie is not worth any brainpower devoted to constructing sentences about it, here's my quick list of why it sucks.
- You can only pull so many twists and turns before they render the entire story and, more importantly, any audience investment in it irrelevant. It doesn't matter whose allegiance is where once it is established that the writers are just going to change things willy-nilly, jerking you back and forth and back again, and possibly forth and then back once more. I stopped caring about two-thirds the way through this because I couldn't rely on anything that had happened to actually matter. It's not suspenseful, it's indecisive and sloppy. I felt this way about Abbas-Mustan's last film, Race, too. Enough.
- Sonam Kapoor cannot act and she most definitely cannot dance, so giving her not one but two come-hither songs was utterly laughable. That "Charlie's Angels" song ("Ladki Hai Nadaan") is so ill-advised, even as a stand-alone component, but when coupled with the sort of elder brother vibe Abhishek's character had towards Sonam's character at that point in the film, and him strongly established as in a solid couple with Bipasha, it became creepy and pathetic too. And that thing she did with NNM in his villain lair ("Jhoom Jhoom Ta Tu")...words fail me. She cannot even walk and snap her fingers at the same time, let alone lip-synch with any kind of appropriate facial expression and move the rest of her body with anything approaching allure.
- There are way too many people who don't matter. The smidge of emotional heart this film tries to create is too thinly dispersed, and I felt like the makers are relying on our memory of better films with similar character motivations—avenging a parent, avenging a friend, risking it all for a child—rather than creating a reason to give a flying fig in this one.
- Most of the characters flail around in tone and fail to give the impression of either particular competence or particular engagement in the insanely complex situation they're in. They don't seem to care very much, so why should we?
- Once again I find myself thinking this would be better if Manmohan Desai had done it (a sentiment last expressed in print in my piece on Jhinder Bandi but that exists in my head almost all the time). Esteemed colleague Shahrukh Is Love has many things in her writeup that were also in my head, but the elements she named were somehow much more fun for her than they were for me. That makes me a little sad, because on paper the idea of a film with "nonsensical convoluted plots involving prosthetic faces and illusions and cranes and chutes," as she says, sounds like a very good time indeed, but all I could think about was how many resources were wasted on this that could have gone to a much better version of the same basic concept.
- Master criminals cannot find someone in Wellington, New Zealand, without major technological assist, while their fictional brethren run into exactly the right people in MUMBAI all the damn time? I don't think so.
- Next time, putting at least one action star in the action film might be a good idea. The most competent action star in Players is almost 66 years old.
Avoid, yaar! AVOID LIKE THE WIND!
Oh PS, does anyone else find Sikander Kher oddly magnetic, even though he hardly had anything to do? Is it the curls?