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Film Review: Don 2

Film Review: Don 2

December 23, 2011
Pulkit Datta

An otherwise slick and stylish film is dragged down by lackluster script and dialogues.



There's a serious condition ailing the mainstream Hindi film industry - the unnecessary compulsion to talk more and show less. In one sequence in Farhan Akhtar's Don 2, the conniving lead (Shah Rukh Khan, back with his grimaces) explains in detail to his accomplices the plan to blackmail a high profile target. Once the accomplices nod and agree to the plan, they then execute the plan, exactly as was explained earlier. And after the same thing has been told and then shown, it's told again in a summary of sorts where the cops hunting for Don realize the plan and feel the need to spell it out. Again. This, unfortunately, is what unceremoniously drags Don 2 down from its high expectations and even bigger hype into disappointment.

Akhtar has established himself as a quality filmmaker (amongst his many other talents), managing to balance style with story in a fresh, new age way. He has done this right from his directorial debut Dil Chahta Hai, and followed it with Lakshya and even the first Don film, which was a remake of the 1978 Amitabh Bachchan cult classic. Conjuring up an original sequel to a remake of a cult classic is akin to playing with fire. This is why Don 2 comes with such high expectations and is an unfortunate letdown. The script and dialogues become the biggest weakness of a premise that had the potential for oh-so-much.

The story continues some time after where the first one left off. It begins with the elusive Don resurfacing, creating some more havoc and in a surprise move, he turns himself in. His goal is to see Vardhan (Boman Irani) again, his arch enemy who was caught and imprisoned at the end of the first film. Whipping up another plan, Don now wants to collaborate with the one man he trusts the least, starting with plotting both their escapes from prison. The premise is intriguing and, knowing the dynamics between these two characters in the first film, the sequel could have been taken in so many different directions to make for a taut and thrilling ride. But the intrigue fizzles out soon after, as Vardhan is reduced to a mere sidekick for most of the film. He listens to Don's plans, asks a couple of clarification questions and then agrees each time. Yes, he too has his own motives but his character's dramatic weight is significantly lessened here.

Akhtar and his team have designed Don 2 as an action thriller, using the cat-and-mouse chase template that has proven to be such an entertaining genre. The problem with this film, however, becomes the sheer lack of depth in the story which drags the film considerably. The first Don had a lot going on - multiple players in a drug trade, a police department with embedded criminals, a powerful female lead with a personal agenda, a wronged man looking for vengeance, all encompassed within an intricate, if bizarre, master plan hatched by an all-powerful elusive villain. In Don 2, this master criminal just wants to rob a bank in Berlin.

The cop team of Roma (an uninspired Priyanka Chopra) and Malik (an even more uninspired Om Puri) are back on the hunt for Don as they follow him from Malaysia to Germany. Don's new arm candy accomplice is Ayesha (Lara Dutta, oozing glamor), who is actually one of the more effective characters for how little she needs to speak. Her expressions and actions say it all as she dutifully and confidently helps put Don's puzzle together. The other new character is the tech whizkid Sameer (Kunal Kapoor, functional but underused), who is hired by Don to execute his plan.

Good action films also need lots of one thing - good action. The few chase and action sequences Akhtar orchestrates are snazzy. The car chase as Roma tails Don through the streets of Berlin tries some new stunts and is a thrilling watch. But even the action sequences fade out in the second half and especially the climax. The part of the film that should have been the fastest in pace, filled with twists and should have left the audience breathless is instead riddled with mundane dialogues, as the characters literally stroll casually through a high pressure, time-sensitive situation.

The best thing in Don 2's favor is its production quality. It is by far one of the slickest and most stylish films seen in Hindi cinema recently. In that respect, it more than lives up to one of Akhtar's trademarks as a filmmaker. The camerawork by Jason West is a pleasure to watch. The one and only song-and-dance sequence in the entire narrative, Zara Dil Ko Tham Lo, is brilliantly shot and the action sequences have an artfulness to them that is still rare in commercial Hindi cinema.

At a runtime of two and a half hours, Don 2 simply doesn't have enough to justify its length. While Khan managed to carry off the character effectively in the first film, he seems forced this time, turning his character from a wicked and clever baddie to just a nuisance. It's hard to connect with him or any other character in the film, while the script leaves hardly anything to the imagination. If you must watch it, go for the visuals and the action scenes. Otherwise, it's an underwhelming film in many ways from Akhtar, which is disappointing considering his impressive track record.

Image courtesy of Reliance Entertainment. 

18 Comments

  • Pulkit
    By
    Pulkit
    08.08.12 08:08 PM
    @Kevin: Thanks for your comments. I agree, Hindi films tend to overlook the most basic logic sometimes in the interest of pure entertainment and mass appeal. It's something our cinema has to evolve towards, which is unfortunately a slow process.
  • Kevin
    By
    Kevin
    08.08.12 09:09 AM
    I have recently watched Don 2 for the first time and came across this review with very colorful comments. So here is my two cents about the movie.
    Pulkit is right: Don 2 is slick. It certainly is, no doubt about that. The production quality is high and the scene where they discuss about the bank robbery (the scene with blue beams) took me by a surprise.
    The movie however lacked imagination, character development and most of all, I don't understand, why Bollywood has to follow one dimensional story line.
    At the beginning, we are shown Don's new enemy is head of the European drug cartel who is later arrested by the Interpol thanks to a disc Don gave them. Wait, what? His enemy, an Asian gangster was in his backyard, taking over the bank, running from the police on the streets and he choose to do...nothing? Dude he is the head of the European drug cartel and as far as the law of logic states someone that high up, when they make enemy, they make enemy.
    Second, again the law of logic (man Bollywood seems to forget them don't they?) when you wear a mask, your body which includes muscles, jaw, eye color, height, weight and anything else you want to include- remain the same. Sure it looked cool in Mission Impossible but you forgot even in those movies they explicitly state the guy who wore Tom Cruise mask had the same built! So WTF was going on when Don gained a few inches and then lost it when he took off the mask? Not to mention the nose too.
    Third...actually you know what, forget it. I can make a longer list but that wouldn't worth my time more than what I have already spent which includes watching Don 2. I can however picture how they came up with the story though:
    Director (taking a poof from a joint): I think we should have the actor do a lot of fights and car chases. I fucking love being Michael Bay, blowing shit up, you know.
    Writer # 1: (taking the joint from the Director): Yeah I know and I think we should get him to say these lines that show he is super confident and a get him a couple of tattoos to show he is a bad ass.
    Writer # 2: (while munching the Kurkures) fuck yeah! and you know what, I think it would look really super cool if we can have him do everything and show how it is so easy to fool the Europeans.
    Writer # 1: Guys? (others look at him) We forgot about the story.
    Director: That's not a problem, we are already high and let's see what Hollywood DVDs we got there.
    Writer # 2: Hmm, all we got are the Ocean Eleven series and Mission Impossible 3
    Director: Put it on and we can see what we can fit in.

    And that's my friends how DON 2 was made.
  • Aonkur Gogoi/Kam
    By
    Aonkur Gogoi/Kam
    03.03.12 09:56 PM
    Alri8 here looks like I've missed zzat elusive chat but people just won't pay any bit of heed to even what the greatest professional critic says when they watch the movie. I like cat and mouse and thats how things run up there, mind you. And Priyanka's image of Wild Cat is enough to whitewash this negative review!
  • Pulkit
    By
    Pulkit
    30.12.11 03:10 AM
    Thanks, everyone, for the comments!

    @VaibhavGhevde: Haha! Which part of my review made you want to watch it? I'm glad it didn't come across that negative then. :-)
  • vaibhavGhevde
    By
    vaibhavGhevde
    28.12.11 09:55 PM
    Your article has an opposite effect on me, I was going to give the movie a miss but after reading your review I think I'll just watch it once.
  • bhrigupandit
    By
    bhrigupandit
    27.12.11 11:32 AM
    i think he is real hero. hi film is hit. he will get all.
  • Kiran Chikkala
    By
    Kiran Chikkala
    26.12.11 06:22 PM
    Awesome movie......
  • Anand Kumar
    By
    Anand Kumar
    23.12.11 08:16 PM
    Wheather it's Ra One or Don...Onething is confirmed that he is GONE..

    At present he is pulling crowd like us because of his good movies in past. But, hope you will select good scripts or else time will come we'll think twice before blidnly go for all your movies.
  • Karan
    By
    Karan
    23.12.11 04:23 PM
    Barood, ra.one is hardly a flop since it is the 2nd highest worldwide grossing bollywood movie of all time
  • sachin
    By
    sachin
    23.12.11 01:56 PM
    Don never gives room to his fans for complaining.he just does everything perfectly..so this is a brillaint movie for his fans
  • RajRocks
    By
    RajRocks
    23.12.11 01:06 PM
    The film was really well-made....slick,fast-paced nd had some riveting dialogues.....Now there will be people who only know criticizing.....nd dey will criticize....but the fact of the matter is DON 2 is one of the best if not the best action thriller of Bollywood!!!!
  • Barood
    By
    Barood
    23.12.11 08:30 AM
    LOL these srk fans are so pathetic, trying to hound every negative review, must be hurting from the Ra.One flop
  • akash ray
    By
    akash ray
    23.12.11 08:13 AM
    apparently only you have got negative viewpoint about this movie...everyone who has watched this movie is all praise for it. and today when it will be released in India and worldwide then u can see the public review of the whole world and then u will realize that u r the only one who has not liked this movie
  • anonymous
    By
    anonymous
    23.12.11 07:41 AM
    true enough u should remove ur review..... when dialogues of don 2 have already been a hit with peole even before its release; u r saying that those are lacklustre!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    U r on same else planet my friend......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Parvez
    By
    Parvez
    23.12.11 07:00 AM
    @NRI request you to remove tis review...i think u r d fan of salman...dnt b kiddy by seeing sallu movie...absolutely d don 2 showd brilliancy everywhr...and m not a srk fan...i saw d movie...realy was a brilliant frm d past recent days...frndz dnt mis to watch...go for it guyz hav a blast...d film wil made a new history...and nri u r not a person to decide abt d movie...public hav to report...til now got positiv reviews al over except ur negative...
  • The NRI
    By
    The NRI
    23.12.11 06:30 AM
    @Akash Ray - you are entitled to your opinion as is the author. He watched the movie as he always does.

    I am not sure how you can suggest the whole world has watched the movie (at the same time suggesting a professional critic has not) before it has widely released.

    If you are a die-hard srk fan then clearly you will always be upset whenever anyone has a slightly negative viewpoint on one of his movies
  • akash ray
    By
    akash ray
    23.12.11 06:24 AM
    I think the author of this review is one srk hater. So without watching the movie, he is criticizing it. Everyone in the whole world has loved this movie. It's terrific....go for it guys
  • Karan
    By
    Karan
    23.12.11 05:50 AM
    The audience who has watched it thus far (those from UK and Australia) has loved Don 2 and each review has praised the dialogues as did the audience i watched it with last night in australia with claps and laughs.

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