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 Rating: **1/2
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 Rating: **
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 Rating: ***1/2
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?
DailyBhaskar.com Rating: *** Direction
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.