Abbas-Mustan's crime-thriller Players, official remake of American film The Italian Job, is a stylish film with bikini babes and hot men. The film features Sonam Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Abhishek Bachchan, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Bobby Deol.
A thriller like Players could have worked only if it were made as a fast-paced and stylish film. While this film is stylish, it is anything but fast-moving and, therefore, gives the audience so much time to think that it fails and falls flat on its face. It is for this very reason – giving the viewers time to think – that the entire train robbery sequence and the latter part look fake and unbelievable. Charlie and his team get to know every detail of the train journey so easily and are able to carry out their plan so meticulously and effortlessly that the audience starts questioning the security arrangements made to transport so much gold.
Bad screenplay spoils the game
All in all, while the story is interesting, the screenplay botches the attempt so badly that the film turns out to be a boring fare. On top of it, the drama is so long-drawn that it tests the audience’s patience, especially in the second half. Probably, the worst part of the drama is that the key players are so laid-back in their approach that they should never have been successful, yet success comes knocking at their door always. Also, the audience’s sympathy goes to no character in the film, because of which the viewer remains an outsider and never ever gets involved with the drama. Dialogues, also penned by Rohit Jugraj and Sudip Sharma, lack the fire and the thrill.
Climax, cold and confusing
The climax is not half as exciting as it ought to have been. Also, the film lacks romance because although there are two girls and five guys, the script doesn’t allow the romantic track to really come through. In fact, why the writers have shied away from clearly telling who Charlie is fond of – Rhea or Naina – is not clear. Even comedy is lacking in the film. The drama, as mentioned above, is rather boring. Emotions completely fail to touch the heart. Music, which could have been another important pillar of the star-cast thriller, is a minus point in the film.
Coming to the performances, it must be mentioned that several of the lead players have spoken their dialogues in a flat manner and with much the same expressions throughout the drama. Abhishek Bachchan and Bobby Deol, especially, seem to be under the mistaken belief that uttering dialogues in a very sober and serious way, with absolutely no smile or emotion on the face, is akin to good acting. But it only makes them look limited as actors. Abhishek Bachchan fails to make an impression, least of all as a team leader. His expressions hardly change and his acting is ordinary. His dialogue delivery leaves something to be desired. Bobby Deol gets limited scope and is routine in what he does. Again, voice modulation and body language are as good as missing in his acting. Bipasha Basu looks sexy and does an okay job. Sonam Kapoor is dull. Her scenes give the impression that she was in a hurry throughout the making of the film. Neil Nitin Mukesh is quite effective. He is at least earnest about what he does. Omi Vaidya goes through his role with sincerity. He evokes laughter at some places. His acting is probably the best in the film. Sikander Kher needs to loosen up. His acting is barely average. Vinod Khanna hardly makes his mark. His voice gives the impression that he is very tired now. Johny Lever entertains in two roles. Aftab Shivdasani is alright in a friendly appearance.
Abbas-Mustan fail to deliver as directors. Their choice of subject for the actors they’ve chosen and, more importantly, their acceptance of the screenplay is shocking. No doubt, they have given the film a huge canvas and wonderful gloss but what’s lacking in the body beautiful is the soul. Their narration is loose and it fails to hold the audience’s interest. But it must be said, their shot takings are very stylised. If the writers have let down the director-duo, so has the music director. Pritam Chakraborty’s music is a major minus point of the film. The songs are dull. The absence of hit music is sorely felt, especially because the cast is youthful. Even the choreography (Bosco-Caesar and Raju Khan) is commonplace. Lyrics (Ashish Pandit) are ordinary. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background music should’ve been better and more forceful. Ravi Yadav’s camerawork deserves distinction marks. He has captured the foreign locales beautifully. His work in the train robbery sequence and the aerial shots is especially noteworthy. Allan Amin’s stunts are good but a negative point is that they lack novelty. Hussain Burmawala’s editing is sharp. Technically, of a good standard. Production values are grand. Sets are very appropriate.
What’s Good: The train robbery sequence; some comedy in the second half; Omi Vaidya and Neil Nitin Mukesh’s acting.
What’s Bad: The loose and uninteresting screenplay; the poor music; the dull acting of Abhishek, Sonam and Bobby.
Verdict: All that glitters is not gold. This gold rush adventure will not see people rushing to the cinemas.
Bollywood Hungama, Taran Adarsh
It is accepted that Abbas-Mustan are forward-thinking directors. Not only do they opt for varied plots for their films, but also think out of the box when it comes to execution of the written material. Irrespective of how their films are received at the ticket window, you cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that they never pursue the trodden trail. But it's the screenplay that lets them down this time. Since a large part of the movie involves action and chase sequences [Allan Amin], the amalgamation of thrills and daredevil stunts keeps you on the edge. Also, the scale of the film is overwhelming. Filmed at the panoramic locales of Russia, Netherlands, New Zealand and of course, India, the DoP [Ravi Yadav] bestows the film with an international look. In fact, it's an incredibly good looking film!
It's a screenplay of convenience. The manner in which the gang sets out to execute the heist in Russia seems like a cakewalk or child's play, which is so damn difficult to absorb. Common guys, you are talking of robbing a nation's assets in broad daylight and the convenience with which things fall into place makes the entire heist phony and fake. Ditto towards the finale, when the chase ensues. Though the train robbery [in the first hour] and the chase sequence [climax] leave you awe-struck, the approach with which the gang sets out to achieve the goal is what appears counterfeit. In fact, given the genre of the film [a hi-octane thriller], one would've expected the writers to integrate a dash of realism in the plot for the goings-on to look plausible and credible, but the haphazard screenplay and the excessive length only dilutes the impact generated by some wonderful moments that Players has to offer.
Neil Nitin Mukesh is entrusted with a challenging role, but he lacks the charisma and skill to carry off the part with dexterity. Sikander Kher has an insignificant role. As for Omi Vaidya, the less said the better. He irritates and hams incessantly. Vinod Khanna is not in his element either. Johny Lever is hilarious as the car dealer. Aftab Shivdasani appears in a cameo.
On the whole, Players rides mainly on the clout of its credible director duo [Abbas-Mustan], daredevil stunts and stunning visuals. But, most importantly, it is deficient of a captivating screenplay. Also, the film could have done with judicious trimming for an enhanced impact. I for one went in with colossal expectations, but came out feeling downcast and disheartened.
IANS, Troy Ribeiro
Sleekly made with fine action, crisp razor sharp edits, speeding cars and exciting photography giving you glimpses of scenic Siberia, Amsterdam and New Zealand, the film reminds you of a Bond film. The leggy babes with leotard and boots, the guys with stubble and leather jackets, the palatial villas, the elongated limousines, the long car chases, the heist on the train - everything looks glossy and out of this world.
Ravi Yadav's cinematography and Husain Burmawala's editing are worth a mention. Technically, Abbas Mastan have churned out a very fine movie.
Unfortunately, the film delivers without any emotions. It is evident that the actors have not put their soul to the characters; they have just walked through their roles. And it shows. The glycerine and the pancake take the applause.
Sikander Kher seems to have some promise. In certain scenes, Sonam reminds of Simi Garewal. Vinod Khanna, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Abhishek's performances lack energy. Omi and Johnny Lever are stereotyped with their comic dialogue delivery. Bipasha has nothing new to offer and Bobby Deol is wasted in the minuscule role.
Players is a synthetically made formula thriller. It does not touch you emotionally. But a good watch nonetheless.
Rediff, Sukanya Verma
The real problem with this official remake of The Italian Job is that instead of reproducing a perfectly nuanced screenplay as it is, it tries to act too smart, with excessive elements and needless tampering, in the process making a complete fool of itself.
The keywords of this plot are simple: grand-scale gold robbery, fellowship of a highly-skilled team, successful execution, traitor in the gang, payback and a Mini Cooper-packed climax. Except this is Bollywood and a thief cannot be a thief for the thrill of it, he has to have gracious motives like setting up the largest orphanage in the world.
The Times of India, Nikhat Kazmi
From its very original version in 1969, with its classic cast of Michael Caine, Noel Coward and Benny Hill to the much later 2003 version with Donald Sutherland, Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and other stalwarts, the Italian Job has been entertaining its viewers as amongst Hollywood's most fascinating thriller films which involve a simple plot of stealing gold worth $35 million from the canals of Venice to LA. The transfer is supposed to take place over a high Alpine pass that hasn't been disturbed since the time of Hannibal and the fact that it all gets messed up due to human error and modern technology only makes humans to turn out more puny than they seem. Natural laws are after all always supreme, never to be challenged. But ah! for human greed... Can you expect something like this from our desi Players, a supposedly Indian vision of the Italian Job?
Abbas-Mustan as director duo rock but at times succumbs to the poor screenplay and dialogue writing by Rohit Jugraj and Sudip Sharma. The betrayal in love and swapping the partners brings back the memories of Race, Abbas-Mustan’s last release. Nevertheless, full marks to the robbery sequence with high-end technology worth giving a watch. But again, as mentioned earlier, dragged screenplay and low enthusiasm takes away the charm.