Director: Farhan Akhtar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani
By the time it dawns on you that a 6-feet contemporary Bollywood actor (in a cameo) has been passed off as the unabridged undercover for Shah Rukh Khan's Don in the film, you are expected to be equipped for many more of such cinematic liberties. And rather than crying a spoiler there, you could rather preset your logic mode to the multiple masquerades in store in the movie.
Don 2, the sequel starts off almost from where the earlier episode ended and while it attempts to maintain some continuity with the last installment, it fails to bring back the intelligence of the original. Don (Shah Rukh Khan) emerges in Malaysia and gets himself arrested only to get the convicted Vardhan (Boman Irani) out of jail. Vardhan has keys to a video footage which they use to blackmail a bank vice president (Alyy Khan) to get access to a German bank's security systems. The big plan is the old-fashioned and formulaic robbery of the currency printing plates from the bank. So the sequel to Don merely boils down to being a heist film.
The film, more or less, starts as an action flick with Don's one-man-army introduction in Thailand, a convenient escape from Malaysian prison and some conventional car-chase sequences in Germany. None of them excite much until you realize you have already reached the interval. The plotting and scheming starts in the second half with an easy induction of a hacker (Kunal Kapoor) who can not only barge into the security systems of the vault but also seems to have blueprints of the bank building to the minutest details.
The writing by Ameet Mehta, Amrish Shah and Farhan Akhtar is more style over substance attempting to camouflage cliches with the cool quotient. Even the central heist seems confusing and convoluted but Farhan Akhtar intentionally keeps the pacing swift enough, leaving no time for the viewer to notice any loose ends. However, the more he makes the situation easy to suit his script, the more it becomes difficult for the audience to digest things.
Even the robbery seems mundane Hollywoodish exercise with no moments of thrills in particular. However the highlight isn't the heist per se but Don's hidden agenda behind it. While it isn't much difficult to decode the mystery, it makes for a decent climax. The director mercifully keeps mush away from the major proceedings though he can't resist the temptation in the climactic portion in his attempts to induce chemistry between Don and his rival, Roma (Priyanka Chopra). But Don would have been better-off as the suave and stonyhearted killer rather than a 'Rahul' prototype. Thankfully the chemistry is peripheral and never blooms into romance.
Also one would have preferred to see Don as more brain over brawny hero but the director makes him a jack of all trades giving him James Bond kinda complete-man characteristics. Vulnerability is alien to Don, essentially making him larger-than-life. But despite being an unethical drug-lord, Farhan Akhtar's treatment is such that you still adore him as the hero over abhorring him as an outright villain. Don 2 never gets into the good v/s evil battle.
The cinematography by Jason West is striking. However Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's musical score doesn't leave a mark this time and the background score has to repeatedly resort to the theme-piece from the original for some impact. Farhan Akhtar's punch-lines in dialogues are initially amusing but with a Don-ism in every second line, it sounds hackneyed and hollow after a point.
Shah Rukh Khan is in his comfort zone as the Don bringing more charm than cruelty to his character. He rules supreme and the film's indulgence with him is as much as Don's obsession with himself. Everyone else is overshadowed. Priyanka Chopra is passable. Lara Dutta, as the Don's moll, is simply a substitute for Isha Koppikhar from the prequel and is hardly there for a few scenes. Boman Irani is underused. Kunal Kapoor fails to register any impact. Om Puri, Alyy Khan and Nawab Shah are plain functional. Sahil Shroff irritates.
Don 2 ends with the promise of Don 3 (that's what the number-plate of Don's bike reads) and the trademark dialogue 'Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi, namumkim hai' (It's not just difficult to catch don, it's impossible). But we would surely want to 'catch' up with a more worthy sequel to this. It's not impossible Farhan. Is it?