The don from Don 2 is older not wiser, and worse, cracks flat jokes. So just before he goes to kill off a group of enemies (single-handedly, of course), he announces he feels like an Italian dinner. Unfortunately, this is also an unintentional reference to the 1969 classic The Italian Job, which this film seems to be heavily influenced by.
So here, Don (Shah Rukh Khan) is not after money, but precious printing plates that literally mint original currency. The task is impossible, of course, and Don must get to it, bad sense of humour and gelled hairdo intact.
Roma (Priyanka Chopra) is dull as well, always uptight and off to work, which is nabbing Don. Heck, even Vardhan (Boman Irani) isn't up to anything really nasty.
Then the character of a hacking geek (Kunal Kapoor) who's a "fan" of Don is a bit much. And yes, having a gorgeous Lara Dutta by your side and a fan-boy on the other is a completely glamorised picture of the character, who is ultimately a criminal.
Don's infallibility is taken to new lengths. In a car chase at top speed, he's nonchalant, even cheerfully waving to the chaser. And, of course, you'll find it difficult to cosy up to a character that blows up innocent policemen to prove a point.
Don's characterisation is central to the film and something is off here. The trademark cockiness is completely devoid of charm, and turns annoying. So when Roma nabs him and says "Down on your knees", he replies, "Really? I'm wearing white!" Or exclaims, "Ooo kinky", when she handcuffs him.
Flat punch lines are seen throughout the film. Like when the fan-boy attacks someone by giving him a shock and says, "shocking behaviour".
The actors are all at the top of their game, and that elevates the film somewhat. Shah Rukh still exudes a searing screen presence that keeps you hooked. Priyanka Chopra and Boman Irani are dependably good. But across the board, the cast has done better in other films.
Writer-director Farhan Akhtar gives the film a solid retro hangover. The plot itself, a heist, is very old-school. Again, The Italian Job reference comes in, where the protagonists plan an impossible robbery.
Both films show a garage where the men are at work to prepare for D day. The scene - where the hardened master criminal is enjoying cartoons on TV - is also a retro touch. Here, even the dialogue has an '80s hangover. So you have characters using words like diljasp and mulakat.
On the other hand, the styling and superbly executed action scenes (kudos to SRK and Priyanka for that as well) are very with it.
Now, every good hero needs a formidable villain; only then is their victory worthy of a story. Here, no one seems to be a patch on Don. Vardhan and another contract killer, at best, make for villains from a kids' movie, growling and scowling and without any hint of intelligence. Where's the conflict then?
The heist when it happens is intermittently absorbing. But the technical waffle puts you in an uninterested daze, even as we see another system hacked through the computer.
The car chases are superb and will have you at the edge of your seat. For the rest of the film though, you'll be slouching on that very seat, waiting for the thrills that the Don series promises.
Whether the plot, acting, thrills or music - this sequel is not a patch on Don. This'll be fun only for fans of the stars; the others can only hope Don 3 (the ending hints at a sequel) brings back the glory expected of the Don series.
Rating: 2 stars