Friday, December 23, 2011

NEW: Don 2: the Slick, Cool and Action-Packed Return of the King

I think Bollywood saved the best for last this year.

If we could have skipped all of the Ra.One buildup and gone straight to Don 2, I would have been happy. Although, as you know, I didn't hate Ra.One as much as most people seemed to, Don 2 is all that it promises and more (including some of what Ra.One promised!).

There are sexy foreign locales (from Thailand to Switzerland to Germany), hot women (Piggy Chops and Lara Dutta), flashy cars (lots of Hyundais), car chases through great locations, spectacular stunts (base jumping from buildings, anyone?) and explosions and guns a-plenty. And, of course, tons and tons of SRK acting like a total badass. And then the plot has drugs, bank robberies, jail breaks and assassination plots — all major action plots in one.

And Don 2, I thought, did all of these things even better than the first film. If Ra.One was shooting for Hollywood's level, Don 2 reached it. It's so cool it's ridiculous. It's slick, glitzy and so action-packed you never have a down moment. The stunts and special effects really are Hollywood caliber. And the camerawork (which film classes have taught me to notice) is really brilliant, including the quick cuts and slow-pans.

And, like I said about the 2006 movie, the great thing is that Farhan Akhtar (as writer-screenwriter-director-producer!) doesn't just depend on the slickness of appearances to carry the film. There's plenty of plot and substance to it. And the plot is so well thought-out and planned that you'll be amazed.

For example, we figured out the biggest twist of the first Don film before it happened. I didn't figure out the ending twist of Don 2. It caught me (and also Papaya) by surprise. And that's saying something. Of course it's not as big of a twist as the one at the end of Don, which totally reworks the entire film, but it was a pretty solid one.

It doesn't even have those little glitches that Bollywood always has. The white people are voiced by white people with the appropriate accents. They speak English and German. Random, illogical people don’t just speak Hindi for the heck of it. The kicks and punches make actual punching and kicking noises. The hits actually look real.

The nitpicks I have are that Don does most of the work for the bank heist himself despite the fact that he's the crime boss of the Asian underworld. Of course, SRK makes Don so conniving that even this works somehow. And then there's the fact that everyone crucial — from the bank VP down to the hitman — are magically desi (and Hindi-speaking desi at that), even in Germany. (But this is also played off as a joke: "What can I say? We are everywhere," Don tells Ayesha.)

And every actor stepped into his or her role perfectly.

SRK owns this film. But you probably should have seen that coming. Don really is the ultimate badass. He has genius, muscle, wit, humor, wealth, style and power. He's going to blow things up, take what he wants and look cool doing it. And Shahrukh gives him charm with arrogance and a devil-may-care attitude that makes the character work. And of course he's amazingly attractive doing it, as SRK is — though in the beginning when it was long, his hair needed to be washed so bad it was bothering me.

Piggy Chops was also more likeable — and stronger — in her role in this film than the first one. Roma gets another love interest to shrug off and time to show her obsession with Don. She also has a pretty powerfully played scene in which she's compelled but reluctant to shoot Don.

Don and Roma also have twice the sizzle in this film than in the first.

Lara Dutta gives the film way more sizzle than the actress from the first film.

Boman Irani also has his own level of powerful coolness despite his secondary position. His character is the one who really chafes under Don, and it's amazingly palpable how angry and yet accepting he is of that role.

Plus! Hrithik Roshan makes a snazzy little cameo, complete with a dance.

And I didn't like the music when I listened to it before the film, but watching it play out in the film, it all works perfectly. Like this song. I really didn't like it at first, even the shortened promo version of the video, but when you watch the whole thing, it's so cool that you can't dislike it. (And Lara Dutta is sort of a reincarnation of the spazzy-chicken-in-a-gold-dress here but better.)

And I really don't think I can sing Farhan Akhtar's praises loud enough. After I loved and adored him earlier this year as actor (and singer) in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, he turns out such brilliance as this (and of course the completely different and more amazing Dil Chahta Hai) as writer, director and producer.

Sum total? Don 2 is fabulous and probably one of my favorite films of the year.

My only question is: When do we get Don 3?

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