With Shahrukh Khan, a huge budget, big explosions, a perfectly made up Priyanka Chopra as a Michelle Rodriguez-wannabe tank topped tough cop, and a heist plot, Don 2 has something for everyone. That is if 'everyone' is under the age of fifteen. The rest of us will likely wonder what happened to the need for a decent story or a well-written script. But if you like your cinema with snazzy illogical thrills, then Don 2 is fun enough junk.
The original 1978 Don is a cult classic because of Amitabh Bachchan's magnetism, solid characters, deft pacing and Zeenat Aman’s oomph. All the cheese was equipoised by the suave brilliance of Mr Bachchan. The 2006 Farhan Akhtar remake was an unintentionally hilarious, dopey, badly acted, commercially successful modern actioner. The best way to describe Don 2 is Plot Hole Porn. When it comes to logic, Don 2 is as woefully incompetent as its predecessor, except it flaunts a bigger budget for added ludicrous entertainment. Star Shahrukh Khan and director Akhtar once again never aim for the cerebral, and are happy to simply cobble together a bunch of glossy foreign -based action staples and hope it all works out. Only afterward, as you stroll out of the theater in a dizzy whir does one start to realize that one hasn't been impressed, but inadvertently entertained.
The plot of Don 2 is a glorious compendium of clichés. The film picks up almost immediately where the previous film left off. Don (Mr Khan) is now the Asian underworld kingpin, and has his sights set on the European market. He crafts a cunning plan to surrender himself to the Interpol and escape from prison with a certain inmate that he needs for his master plan of robbing currency plates from Berlin. The action immediately shifts to Europe, as Don starts rounding up a gang for the big heist, and we’re treated to over the top contrived car chases, an impossible rooftop stunt and some of the cheesiest dialogues in recent memory. The ending ‘twist’ is so predictable one can’t help but be stunned by the film’s Neanderthal mentality.
Throughout the movie Shahrukh Khan’s face sports a contorted expression that suggests the need for more fiber in his diet. He has neither the charisma, nor the personality nor the versatility of the great Amitabh Bachchan from the original film. Instead, he hams uncontrollably, even more so than in the 2006 film, almost like his life depends on it. The romantic angle between Don and Roma (Priyanka) is comically forced and sappy – moreover the chemistry between Shahrukh and Priyanka has as many sparks as a Mumbai blackout. Boman Irani as Vardhan and Aly Khan as Diwan nearly sleepwalk through their roles. Nawwab Shah as Jabbar gives The Incredible Hulk a complex – not in terms of muscle but in wooden acting. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, Lara Dutta keeps popping up as Don’s girlfriend in what is arguably the most hysterically clichéd unnecessary vamp character stereotype to grace the big screen since Drew Barrymore in Batman and Robin. Om Puri, in his career worst role is gloriously campy – he almost tells us that we're meant to laugh at him, not with him.
The original Don had the classics ‘Khaike Paan Banaras wala’ and ‘Yeh mera Dil’. Don: The Chase Begins Again had Midival Punditz’s passable remixes of the same. Don 2 has horribly composed and poorly sung remixes of the remixes of the previous film. They seem like the result of a bar bet gone horribly wrong.
Analyzing the logical aspects of Don 2 is where one can really start to lose one’s mind. When I said the characters indulge in Plot Hole Porn, I wasn’t exaggerating. Don’s master plan is a real head-scratcher. The screenplay goes out of its way not only to make Don some sort of a genius, but also to outdo the previous film’s uproariously stupid plan of Don pretending to be Vijay who pretends to be Don, thereby destroying his own gang and jeopardizing his own business that he worked so hard to build. There's enough limp-wristed contrivance in Don 2 to set back the Dhoom films a few decades. Don’s strategy of using explosives is itself rigged to disintegrate if a moviegoer's IQ nudges above 70. Three different people were credited with writing Don 2 (Akhtar, Ameeth Mehta and Amrish Shah), and I bet they're still arguing over who deserves recognition for the part where Interpol cop Priyanka Chopra pursues Don in a car for ten whole minutes but never bothers to call for backup. Don wears a Mission Impossible-esque plastic mask of another man (a great cameo from an A-list actor), but he also speaks with the actor’s voice. Don, the most wanted man in the world also carries bungee jump kits strapped to his back when he goes out for strolls in public.
Without a doubt, the technical credits are superior to any Indian film to date, and the cinematography by Jason West is truly gorgeous. Also, Don 2 is never boring, thanks to its dazzling special effects that aid the actors flip, fly, jump, dropkick, punch and kick each other like jackhammers. The slow-mo Matrix Kung Fu Karate from the 2006 film makes way for some decent hand-to-hand combat. Of course none of this compensates for the overfamiliar plotline, the amusingly underdeveloped side characters, SEL’s insipid soundtrack and a general air of overbaked over expensive silliness. Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta are as attractive as the Berlin locales, plus the film is occasionally funny, even if the laughs come mostly during the movie's most dramatic, heartfelt moments.
If you’re looking for a smart thriller, then Don 2 is a train wreck of bad lines and predictable plot twists. But it is astonishingly daft, and so profoundly earnest that it is uniquely, hilariously enjoyable. It’s so bad that it’s good.
First published in Mumbai Boss