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Upperstall Review





Hindi, Action, Thriller, 2012, Color

Charlie Masceranhas (Abhishek Bachchan) is a chartered accountant by day and a master-thief by night. With the help of his hero and role model, Victor Dada (Vinod Khanna), who is in jail, Charlie assembles a team of 'player's to steal a large consignment of gold from a moving Russian train...

There is a particular sequence of events in this film that encapsulates everything this 'Abbas-Mustan style action-thriller' stands for. So our kewl gang of players must steal tons of gold from a moving Russian train. Charlie (Abhishek), born leader that he is, masterminds this effort: He uses a mask and impersonates the Russian head-of-security, prior to the train journey. Needless to say, the real chief has been gotten rid of. A paper bag on his unconscious face should do the trick. None of the 100-odd soldiers display any more than a baby goat's level of intelligence - convinced that their chief is standing amongst them and inspecting the preparations. Sir Imposter even manages to relay the safe code back to HQ until he is routinely interrupted by his Superior - the chief of the chief, I'm guessing. This chap fails to demonstrate the evolution of the human mind too, and gives the go-ahead. Mission accomplished, then. All Charlie has to do is continue impersonating the chief. Right? But, wait. We forget. This is no ordinary film. It is titled Players. And 'Players' are cool, like that. It cannot possibly be so simple. So let's FOOL the audience, embarrass the critics and think one step ahead (and subsequently, two behind) - let's bring Charlie back to HQ, out of his mask so that the TEAM can pull off a laughably-contrived painfully-planned heist sequence with the train(s) in motion. Dhoom 2, EAT DIRT!

Further - just when you think you know what's next, when you think you've pinned them smart alec writers - they stun you with a twist so daft that Don 2 might genuinely be the best heist film of the last 28 days. Rather than get into an analysis of a blatant commercially-crafted explosion of wealth, let's just do away with the 'masala' excuse for once and come to terms with an inescapable fact:

This was meant for the single-screen audiences? Maybe.

This was for the masses, aam-junta, whatever they're called? Maybe.

This was a style ride meant to entertain you, not test you? Maybe.

But here's the thing - films like Players, Ajnabee, Humraaz and Don 2 aren't dumbed down on purpose. Don't flatter yourselves. They're dumbed down because most writers and filmmakers aren't tuned into the real world anymore, They simply can't think outside of the cringe-inducing mediocrity that we see on screen. It is not so much about their intentions as it is about their storytelling caliber these days. It is also time to finally ask some questions: Are they even capable of making a genuinely engaging action, thriller or horror film anymore? Are they equipped with the intelligence to do so?

It is almost impossible to forgive this director-duo for consistently churning out 'thrillers' so ridiculously dated and delusional that they're fast approaching the action-equivalent of Ramsay Brothers. Not to mention their astounding ability of continuously picking out a questionable (putting it mildly) ensemble cast, passing them off as clueless pawns in a game, time and again. Forensic students, detectives and criminology experts might lose the will to live if they're ever exposed to an Abbas-Mustan product. The filmmakers must remember, at all times, that their content is being released in the age of Sherlock, Lost, Castle, Dexter, House and Prison Break. Increasingly so, even the aam-junta they're aiming at aren't strangers to names like this anymore thanks to the unlimited potential of a thing called the Internet.

Also, what is very obvious is the fact that the filmmakers have remade The Italian Job specifically for an audience that has watched the Hollywood versions - blatantly evident from the million incorporated twists that use the original plot as nothing but red herrings. What? The Italian Job says that the gold is supposed to be stolen with a single-con that involves an elaborate traffic plan, an explosion and 3 cars waiting below? Well, let's fool em. Let's put off a double con and expose THAT traffic plan as a fake instead! (Why? Because we can't be predictable while 'remaking' a film, right?)

What it results in, though, is an enormously-contrived, poorly-acted, badly-cut, shabbily-filmed mess of gigantic proportions.

A few lesser important facts have been learned from this remake of a remake, though:

- Sonam Kapoor is yet to display natural signs of gene-inheritance.
- The editor is the star of the film, more so when an inevitable railway-track diversion is delayed (and intercut with shots of Bobby Deol's urgent face - evidently enacting the title character in The Tree Of Life) to a point where he/she is forced to use the same shots twice over. In slow-motion.
- Abhishek Bachchan is preparing for yet another inconsequential role in Dhoom-3.
- Abhishek, at one point, is speaking in Bobby Deol's voice - a lethal combination that could sleeperhold most cinephiles into instant submission.
- Neil Nitin Mukesh tried hard to salvage his ham-and-bacon act by repeatedly watching videos of SRK's death scene in Baazigar.
- Bipasha Basu shows considerably more talent when she acts from the face down.
- Tom And Jerry Sound effects used to signify funny moments or the creases on Johnny Lever's face, are back in fashion.

Recently, I came across an initiative called the Jameson Empire Awards - a competition that encourages amateur filmmakers from all over the world to recreate their favorite film in one minute. Most of the submissions involve the easiest possible way - an effective spoof of the trailers with amusing yet resourceful nursery-level production design. Safe to say, now, that Players could be an unintentionally brilliant selection (and favourite) in the 167-minute category.

- Reel Reptile




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