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Movie review: 'Don 2'

In this overlong film, Shah Rukh Khan plays an unrepentant, vicious, violent crime boss who the audience is supposed to find suave and likable.

December 26, 2011|By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times

In the sequel "Don 2" the Indian movie star — frequently referred to as the biggest in the world — Shah Rukh Khan plays an international crime boss out for revenge against his enemies and profit from wealthy nations. In typical Bollywood style, the film is massively too long even by the standards of Hollywood's bloated award-season entries, stretching out what should be a zip-fast caper plot to well over two hours. That the only song-and-dance number within the story itself is situated in a nightclub is arguably the most believable thing that happens in the whole film.

Of course one doesn't head into "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" expecting a Le Carré realist take on worldwide espionage, and one certainly shouldn't expect anything here except movie-star glamour and movie-movie cool. Khan sells hokey one-liners with the best of them, such as when after dispatching a baddie by snapping his neck on a water wheel he says, "See you around."

The genuinely strangest thing in the film is its oddball point of view, as Khan's lead character of Don is an unrepentant criminal, a killer with his hand in the international drug trade and assorted other illegal enterprises attempting to steal printing plates for the Euro in a complicated Berlin-set caper that becomes the heart of the plot. Yet the story treats him as a swashbuckling hero, overlooking the thornier undercurrents of what that might mean as Don exits a meeting by jumping off the side of a building, attached to some kind of harness line that lands him safely on the ground. Or he crawls on his hands and knees across a ceiling to get into a vault. This guy has some top-notch R&D team working somewhere.

The film is so far removed from what this story might be like if it were anywhere near the real world that the disclaimer about not representing persons living or dead comes at the beginning. (As does a laundry list of media partners and, in the public showing where this critic saw the film, a short ad for the video game adaptation. Priorities.) Director Farhan Akhtar shoots and cuts the action awkwardly, not quite knowing where to place the camera, so the film never gets the slam-bang momentum it might want.

"Don 2" apes the slick gloss and advertorial style of Michael Bay and something of the substance of an international espionage thriller while attempting to hold onto the notion that its main character is a vicious thug but also still a suave, likable playboy. Fitfully enjoyable, the film's leaden pacing and drawn-out running time make the twists of the plot less hairpin turns and more like bends in a river — moving so slowly you can see everything coming from the distance.

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