Top positive review
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Formulaic but stylish, it's actually pretty neat
on February 11, 2009
There's really nothing original about DHOOM. It's a slick-looking action thriller done up Bollywood style, and if you're prepared to go into this film with that Bollywood mindset, you won't be ambushed by the derivative plot, the sometimes broad humor, and the cheesiness, all these being standards of Indian cinema. Dhoom purloins moments from The Fast and the Furious (Widescreen Tricked Out Edition), Mission: Impossible (Special Collector's Edition) [HD DVD], Ocean's Eleven (Widescreen Edition), and even from The Matrix. And, because this is Bollywood, there's also a smattering of musical numbers. With all that said, I'm actually recommending DHOOM. Yep, it's hokey and certain scenes made me groan. But it won me over.
At 123 minutes, DHOOM is weird in that it's shorter than the average Bollywood offering. Even before I saw it, DHOOM had already garnered some good will from me by having as its lead star Abhishek Bachchan, one of my favorite dudes in Indian cinema. Also contributing to DHOOM's likeability is the undeniable eye candy provided by two lovely ladies, Esha Deol & Rimi Sen (oh, mama!). Lots of fabulous skin are shown by the sexy ladies, as they both find occasions to get wet, thanks to a timely garden hose and the weather. Meanwhile, Bachchan and Uday Chopra demonstrate good buddy chemistry. Then, too, there is John Abraham's cool, villainous turn, proving himself a worthy nemesis for the supposed supercop Jai Dixit (Bachchan). DHOOM does provide several big, stylish action sequences. The stunts aren't anything we haven't seen before in American action movies, but they're polished and neat to look at, particularly in the climactic 15 minutes or so, as we check out quite a display of excess in vehicular stunts and a somewhat blatant plagiarism of THE MATRIX f/x. I got a chuckle out of the sequences wherein Bachchan and Abraham would, every now and then, execute a gaudy, slo-mo martial arts move only to have it degenerate into a vicious but basic slapfest.
Plot breakdown and SPOILERS now: Laconic and super-dedicated Assistant Commissioner of Police Jai Dixit is tapped to nab a gang riding souped-up motorbikes and pulling off daring robberies, one of which was carried out right in front of the befuddled police. Jai Dixit, thinking outside the box, hits on the idea of setting a crook to catch a crook. He latches onto the breezy but underhanded Ali (Uday Chopra), who is a whiz on a motorbike. Ali, you see, fixes motorbike races and also sells stolen bikes. Dixit and Ali immediately don't like each other (maybe because Ali was hitting on Dixit's beautiful wife Sweety - yes, her name's Sweety!), but the two muddle thru and eventually get a scent of the audacious biker gang. A television interview by Dixit incenses the gang's calculating, steely-eyed (and often shirtless) leader, Kabir Bhai (John Abraham), who sends out a personal challenge to Dixit, taunting him and unveiling the location of the next crime. What then follows is a cat and mouse game between the two, as they try to one-up each other and the clearly defined roles of hunter and hunted begin to blur.
The song numbers are pretty poppin'. "Dilbara" and the Latin-flavored "Salaame" were the ones I thought the catchiest. In fact, all the songs (even the first song "Shikdum," which I didn't initially care for) were tuneful. Highlights in the Special Features section include an alternate ending (involving a day in the life of Inspector Ali), sexy Tata Young's "Dhoom Dhoom" video, and a "Making Of" featurette (23 minutes long and mostly in English).
Having been a fan of Bollywood since '06, I'm not yet a connoisseur but I do think I've become more in tune with Indian cinema and its sensibilities. The main reason I first checked out this film a few years ago is that I learned Aishwarya Rai was slated to star in Dhoom 2 Back in Action. Aishwarya Rai happens to be the primary reason I got into Bollywood, and, frankly, the girl is so beautiful she makes the two lovely girls in here look like spat-out prunes. Anyway, as cheesy and goofy as DHOOM sometimes gets, I'm glad I saw it. It does go all out in trying to be entertaining. So give it a chance before you start nitpicking it to bits. I rate DHOOM 3.5 out of 5 stars because I believe the positives outweigh the negatives. Enough people apparently agree. Else, why the sequel, right?