Movie Review: Race 3.
Race 3 takes all of Bollywood’s excesses and crams them into one overblown feature film.
Bollywood films are an acquired taste. The over-the-top spectacle, the pervasive musical numbers, the scenery-chewing personalities and the schizophrenic mixing of genres isn’t for everyone. It can be a chore to sit through 3 hours of chaos, hoping for a Dangal or Baahubali 2. Heck, even hoping for a crazy-pants explosion like Robot or Baagi 2! When I heard that Salman Khan (Sultan, Tubelight) was starring in a mega-budget heist movie, I thought our Bollywood drought was over. Alas, Race 3 was just a mirage in the dessert.
Race 3 (2018).
The Singh family are arms dealers walking the line of legality. They used to be loyal providers of tech to the Indian Army, but external jealousies drove them into the black market. Family scion Shamser Singh (Anil Kapoor) has a daring plan to return to glory, but he’ll have to break the law to do it. Now that his twin children are of legal age, he can access their inheritance to pull off a daring heist. A disk filled with details on corrupt politicians is his key to blackmailing his way back to legitimacy. The problem is that he must rely on the talents of his adopted eldest son Sikander (Salman Khan) to succeed.
The twins hate Sikander and are plotting to remove him from the family business. This leads to a race of intrigue as every member of the family plots to use or destroy each other. With everyone out for themselves, can the Singh family survive long enough to go legit?
Too Many Faces.
Right from the beginning, you get a sense that Race 3 is too packed with personality. Each role is filled with a bankable star, and none are sharing the spotlight well. What should have been a slick action intro devolves into a cheesy WWE style ring introduction. Each star makes a splashy entrance to a gang fight, trying to outdo the last entrant with flashy moves. It quickly becomes mindless and ridiculous. You also can see that the “style” of this film is going to be to mug for the camera incessantly.
Not Enough Races!
I was honestly confused why this film was called Race 3. The first Race movies had different characters, even to the point where Anil Kapoor played a different person altogether! There was also, you know, some racing involved. I was expecting a Bollywood take on The Fast and the Furious, where Salman Khan and Bobby Deol were the Indian beefcake analogues to The Rock and Vin Diesel. Everyone in the film drives a fancy sports car, but we never get any big chase scenes. Instead we get a family crime drama with very little intrigue and mostly petty backbiting. When two hours in Salman Khan refers to the family squabble as a “race” for the first time, I nearly got up and walked out.
Soap Gets in Your Eyes.
The bickering and backstabbing, coupled with cheesy dialogue and melodramatic acting made Race 3 feel like a Telemundo soap opera. You can see every twist and reversal coming a mile away…except for when the plot resorts to nonsense to try to surprise you. One character changes motivation and sides so frequently that I rolled my eyes each time they spoke. The characters are such thin stereotypes that they could have replaced their names with “pretty boy” or “tough chick.” The ending of the film is the final straw: a catastrophe of daytime soap opera proportions where everyone is revealed to be somebody’s missing relative. Is this Star Wars or a heist movie?!
Race 3 does have some high points, but they are all squandered. The cinematography is quite spectacular and filled with gorgeous scenes and shots, but they lead nowhere. The musical segments are pretty catchy, but they are shoehorned into the story without rhyme or reason. There are also way too many of them. The choreography for the fights and dances are very professional, but the silliness of the story and the incoherence of the plotting robs them of any heft. The film could easily have cut an hour from the middle and most of the music to make an action film that at least wasn’t a chore to sit through.
Running on Empty.
Race 3 is set to make good money, but it does a huge disservice to the franchise. Changing the dynamics of the series just to cram in popular actors and actresses makes the proceedings feel tawdry. Where the first two films had some inventive twists and schemes, this film is too clever by half. At the end of the day, had this just been a big dumb fun Bollywood movie, I would have been fine. Instead, it reinforces every gripe and flaw in a genre that is starting to run out of goodwill. I loved Salman Khan in Tubelight and enjoyed his action roles in Ek Tha Tiger and Sultan. Unfortunately, the recent string of brainless Bollywood action flicks is really making me re-evaluate my affection for the genre.