Thursday 5 January 2012

The bastard's back: "Don 2"

2006's Don was a derivative Bollywood runaround that provided a dual role for Shah Rukh Khan as both the most feared druglord in all Asia, and the clownish doppelganger recruited by the authorities to go after him. With one of these characters no longer extant, the focus in Don 2 is placed squarely on the bad-ass criminal - and while Khan still seems a mite too cuddly to be entirely convincing as a hardman, it matters less this time around. With drug deals now deemed a no-no (in a 12A crime movie that opens with a warning the cigarettes the lead smokes could be injurious to the viewer's health), and the Don's stubble vanishing frame by frame, a concerted attempt is clearly being made to make the bastard heroic. The role has become Khan's own Bond (the wisecracks, the globetrotting, the musical numbers that look like 007 credit sequences) or Ethan Hunt (the fondness for masks and disguises, the tendency to jump off tall buildings without a moment's thought). The hottie cop running round after him (Priyanka Chopra) appears more interested in nailing this strutting mastermind, one way or another, than she is in the insipid, cardigan-sporting colleague doing his best to woo her.

Like its predecessor - and, indeed, most contemporary Western blockbusters - Don 2 is a piecemeal construction, cobbling together various lifts, borrowings and daft-to-deft stunts that seek to keep us entertained enough not to question why a character who'd previously comported himself like Pacino's Scarface should suddenly be conducting all his business with the utmost stealth and cunning. One further, unexpected influence may be the Mabuse serials, as the puppetmaster protagonist relocates to Berlin and begins pulling the strings that will allow him to steal the printing plates for the Euro, a rather unfortunate MacGuffin, given all that currency has come to be worth these days. Bourne-like car chases follow, as does a bit filched directly from Kick-Ass, as the Don puts his enemies in a scrapyard crusher, but - crucially - lets them live. After the intermission, the film becomes overtly Mission: Impossible-like, with Don breaking into (then out of, then back into) a vault in the German Central Bank with computers (bor-ing) and a reconstituted fire truck (better). Khan's charisma - his ability to consistently inject notes of grace and good humour into even the most lumbering and expositionary of scenes - is undeniable, and it's staged with a degree of competence that makes it very hard to mark down. Again, I ask, though: might we not want our Bollywood releases to look a little less like everything else in the box-office top ten?

Don 2 is in cinemas nationwide.

No comments:

Post a Comment