In his interviews leading up to the release of Don 2, director Farhan Akhtar has repeatedly said that viewers seeking anything other than pure thrills and entertainment from this film are likely to be disappointed. Going in with strictly those expectations, I’m sorry to report I still came away feeling cheated.
For the film’s plot – which basically involves our flamboyant criminal protagonist (Shah Rukh Khan) assembling a team to pull off a seemingly impossible heist in Berlin – the makers borrow ideas from some fine capers like Ocean’s Eleven and the Mission Impossible movies. Still what they deliver in the end is a clunky and spectacularly boring film that is neither smart nor particularly fun.
Sequel to the 2006 film, which was itself a remake of the 1978 Amitabh Bachchan starrer, Don 2 suffers from lazy writing. This is the kind of film in which a most-wanted international criminal can roam around a prison unsupervised, so he can smuggle deadly chemicals into the premises, and poison the inmates’ dinner.
There are ample car chases, explosions, and plot twists; there’s a globetrotting adventure that kicks off in Thailand, moves to Malaysia, then unravels in Europe. But what’s missing is the slightest hint of urgency or nail-biting tension. Take that freefall sequence from a Berlin skyscraper; it’s shot stylishly and gracefully, but without any of the messy unpredictability it could’ve done with. Remember that edge-of-the-seat Burj sequence in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol?
For what’s intended as a slick action thriller, Don 2 moves at an unforgivably slow pace. The heist-planning sequences are tedious and repetitive, and involve more talk than action. To be entirely honest, the action itself has a been-there-seen-that feel to it, and some set pieces aren’t even competently plagiarized. A scene in which an A-list star makes an uncredited cameo defeats the very intention of the scene, given that the audience is in on the trick from the word go.
Looking leaner, meaner and less androgynous than he did in the earlier film, Shah Rukh Khan is expectedly the driving force of Don 2. With a cocky swagger and a mischievous smile, the actor delivers cheesy dialogue that belongs in a school play. The bedrock of a good heist film is the interaction between its team, but Shah Rukh towers above his comrades, giving them precious little to do. Boman Irani returns as Don’s nemesis Vardhan, who has been enlisted to help him on the new job. Lara Dutta is his fetching moll, Kunal Kapoor a hacker handpicked for the assignment, and Aly Khan an influential banker blackmailed into volunteering his services.
Priyanka Chopra, on the other side of the moral divide, is Interpol officer Roma, who has some unfinished business with Don. Their scenes together offer some of the film’s most unintentionally comical moments, and while Priyanka looks the part of the ass-kicking tough-chick, the script seldom lets her fly with it.
Don 2 is nicely shot, and there are moments where Shah Rukh Khan is riveting. But that’s not enough to hold your interest for well over two hours…even the actor’s most loyal fans will find themselves yawning. I’m going with a generous two out of five for director Farhan Akhtar’s Don 2. Although packed with fast cars and bikes, this is one slow ride.