'Players' was always expected to be THE Abbas-Mustan film and they stay on to be real heroes of the show as they end up bettering the original source. It is commendable to see them race along with the trends and the grandeur and technique they demonstrate in 'Players' once again establishes that they are two of the best in the business.
Ever since the film was announced, the makers had no qualms in admitting that this is an adaptation of 'The Italian Job'. Well, they were definitely being modest here because the fact remains that 'Players' is much more than just 'The Italian Job'. In fact this is pretty much 'ek film ke saath doosri film free' affair because the entire first half of the film is pretty much a prequel to what follows in the second half (which is again not really a scene by scene copy). It is due to this very reason you are instantly hooked when drama thickens in 'Players' since you are not quite prepared to see what would unfold next.
Still, a fact needs to be stated that the first 20-30 minutes aren't really the best that one is used to seeing in an Abbas-Mustan film. The opening robbery sequence just doesn't excite much while interaction between featuring Abhishek Bachchan and Vinod Khanna just seem to prolong the wait for all action that one wanted to begin sooner than later. Also, the entire reference to the word 'players' seems like a little overdone. A couple of songs arriving back to back also don't make you jump with joy as the proceedings started looking a lot more Indianised than what one would have bargained for.
However 'Players' starts picking up steam once the team comes together to execute the plan. The moment roles of Abhishek (master mind), Bipasha Basu (automobile expert), Bobby Deol (illusion expert), Neil Nitin Mukesh (computer expert), Omi Vaidya (prosthetics expert) and Sikandar Kher (explosives expert) are established, there is no looking back.
What follows next is the truly 'paisa vasool' part of 'Players' as the train action unfolds. Frankly, this has to be the best action sequence ever to have been choreographed for a Hindi film and even though it picks up germs from a similar robbery as seen in 'Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raaja' or 'Dhoom 2', it surpasses it by leaps and bounds. Lasting 15-20 minutes, it is spelling binding with everything right from visuals to background score to style to technique coming together to result in a thrilling affair.
In fact it is the cool action that one gets to see in 'Players' which is one of the major reasons why one stays on with the proceedings even though the film is over two and a half hours long. Frankly, if the pace is fast enough, one doesn't mind a long movie and this is exactly the case with 'Players' as well which maintains good momentum, especially in the second half where it only elevates with every passing sequence.
Yes, Abhishek's 'entry' into the villain's den (which by the way is a mansion here) is tad too filmy while the 'open challenge' does make one feel why the antagonist is really so gracious. Also, while the sequences featuring Mini Coopers are well done, one would have just wished that the traffic jam sequence (one of the highlights of 'The Italian Job') was a little more effective and detailed. However that is pretty much compensated by the last 15 odd minutes where double twist in the tale happens.
While Abhishek plays his part with ease (there were similar shades in 'Game' too), Neil excels in an author backed role. He is bound to make the best of this opportunity. Bipasha is confident and just as is the case with her characterisation in Abbas Mustan films; this time too she gets a meaty role. Sonam shows her glamorous side this time around and one just wishes that she actually goes the whole hog in films to come. Bobby Deol is criminally wasted which is a pity because whenever cast, he is generally the best part of an Abbas-Mastan. Sikandar Kher is decent while Johny Lever and Omi Vaidya bring in laughs.
Fantastic - That's what you end up exclaiming once the last twist of 'Players' takes you by complete surprise. Oh yes, there are around half a dozen or more twists in this film, something which was pretty much expected since the men at the helm of affairs are Abbas-Mustan. While a couple of them can be seen from a distance and a couple of them are just about decent, there are 2-3 twists in the tale which are simply fabulous that make 'Players' a film that totally belongs to the territory of the director duo. And this, by the way, is what makes this heist thriller an action affair which definitely deserves a dekko.