Indian Express Ratings: *1/2
The one thing Abbas-Mustan films practically guarantee,despite the degree of theft or inspiration from Hollywood flicks,is pacy entertainment. The plot of ‘Players is not stolen,but honorably bought,and has a terrific pedigree : the original Italian Job had the groovy Michael Caine as super-thief Charlie,and lots of lovely lolly; the remake nearly 40 years later had the beefy Mark Wahlberg reprising Charlie the Chors role,and the very dishy Charlize Theron as the bad-good girl. Both films gave us the kind of enjoyment the best heist movies do : slick thieves with slicker moves,blonde bombshells,zippy car-chases and worthy villains.
The reason Im giving you all these points is because the director-duo practically compels you into making comparisons,even if they claim they have Bollywoodized a lot of it. So you sit there and tick-off the points,and against each,instead of an uptick,theres a big,fat cross. And this has to be said too. Even if you havent seen the other two films,’Players comes off as a dismal first for Abbas-Mustan,with a flat script,flatter action scenes,and the flattest bunch of actors,all milling about in one film.
The only thing Abhishek has in common with his illustrious predecessors is the name. Charlie (Bachchan) implores jailed heist-meister Victor Dada (Khanna) to help him put together the best players for a job that needs a make-up expert,a hacker,an explosives man,an engine-tweaker,and a magician (Vaidya,Mukesh,Kher,Basu,Deol). The requirement of placing a good girl amongst all these bad uns is filled by the foreign-returned computer expert Ms Kapoor,whose dearest wish is that the recently-released-from-prison daddy dearest,the self-same Victor Dada,stick to the straight and narrow from now on. The target,a massive stack of heavily-guarded gold ingots to be spirited away from the heart of Russia,under the noses of the military and the mafia,helps banish scruples. And sets the Players on the road.
Youd think with a ready tried-and-tested template,and Abbas-Mustans own skill-sets,Players would keep things ticking swiftly over,at the very least. But practically from the beginning,dreariness settles upon the film,and refuses to lift. The A-M ingredients are all there. Characters with loose morals,women with too-tight,too-few clothes,item numbers where the twain twine. But the sharpness is missing. The badass-ness is missing. And the fun is missing. Except when unintentional hilarity ensues with such lines as this one. Villain; Bewaqoof,sona chori ho gaya hai. Go inside and kill them. Underling : Okay,boss.
The guys have zero impact. So do the gals. Bipasha is same old,despite the stringiest of bikinis,and the only surprisingly not-bad thing Sonam Kapoor does is to dance dirty. In other places,she is part of the furniture. Even the iconic chase scene starring the colourful Minis,faithfully lifted from the earlier films,is long and dull. Just like the film.