×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Dhoom: 3’

High-flying acrobatics and a standout Aamir Khan performance dominate the third entry in Bollywood's biggest action franchise.

With:

Aamir Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Uday Chopra, Jackie Shroff, Tabrett Bethell, Andrew Bicknell, Siddarth Nigam. 

The films in the “Dhoom” series, Bollywood’s most successful action-adventure franchise, have always been more about the swashbuckling glamour of the daredevil villains than about the stiff, humorless, honor-bound cops who chase them. Staunch Abhishek Bachchan’s assistant police commissioner Jai Dixit, a grimly purposeful law-and-order crusader, was doomed to be overshadowed by guest bad guys like “Krrish” heartthrob Hrithek Roshan, who did the honors in “Dhoom: 2” (2006). This is more the case than ever in the latest installment, “Dhoom: 3,” which is dominated completely by charismatic superstar Aamir Khan, who digs into the bruised psyche of his character, Sahir Iqbal, a revenge-seeking master circus artist who uses stage tricks to pull off a series of seemingly impossible bank robberies. Khan makes the character so compelling that we wait impatiently through the obligatory chase sequences and macho showdowns in order to get back to Sahir in his gaudy backstage lair.

In this almost three-hour blockbuster, the repetitive motorcycle chases had this reviewer checking his watch. Lavishly produced and at times gorgeously gaudy, directed with real flair by the writer of the first two “Dhoom” films, Vijay Krishna Acharya, “Dhoom: 3” is already well on its way to making box office history in India, where it’s playing on 4,000 screens. Advance ticket sales have reportedly set new records, and analysts are predicting a first-week gross upwards of $30 million. The film is on 700 additional screens outside India, 236 of them in North America, a record for a Bollywood release. A version dubbed in the South Indian Tamil language is on 10 screens, another first.

The top Bollywood production company Yash Raj Films launched the “Dhoom” series in 2004, as a clear attempt to produce a global (i.e. Hollywood-style) blockbuster. The project has been remarkably successful, perhaps in part because the long Indian tradition of a “cinema of attractions,” favoring a grab-bag of elements from several genres, fits the anything-goes international action format like a glove. Originality was never part of the plan. The first “Dhoom” was a “Fast and the Furious”-meets-“Point Break” romp in which a crew of motorcycle racers, led by dashing hunk John Abraham, made their getaways on jazzy bikes through bumper-to-bumper Mumbai traffic. In “Dhoom: 2,” hot-dancing Roshan was a daredevil cat burglar who teamed up with slinky Aishwarya Rai for a series of high-wire “Mission: Impossible”-style heists.

The obvious titan looming over “Dhoom: 3” is Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” both for its Chicago locations (many of the same ones) and for its repeated references to clown makeup and to Sahir as a “jester.” This film doesn’t come anywhere close to Nolan’s in terms of diabolical grandeur, although the pain of Sahir’s motivation is surprisingly vivid, thanks to Khan’s performance. It should also be noted that the acrobatic magic act Sahir produces and stars in at a Windy City theater, the Great Indian Circus, clearly owes something to another Nolan film, “The Prestige” (2006), in which Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman played 19th-century stage magicians locked in a fierce rivalry. Here, the source of conflict is internal, and it remains carefully hidden until the intermission.

In spite of “Dhoom: 2’s” explosive action fireworks, the scene that people remember most vividly from that film is a dazzling introductory production number, “Dhoom Again,” stomp-danced on a steam-wreathed factory floor by the rubber-limbed Roshan, in a style that could be described as “power tap.” A similar triumph of upstaging occurs this time, as the almost 50-year-old, considerably beefed-up Khan (“Lagaan,” “3 Idiots”), along with his leggy Amazon of a co-star, Katrina Kaif, shows off impressive athleticism and obvious glamour in a series of high-flying acrobatic performance pieces, as spangly in glistening digital images as Cirque du Soleil.

At their best, the lush yet punchy musical numbers that Acharya stages for “Dhoom: 3” reach giddy heights of pop romanticism. The composer, the shameless pop button-pusher Pritam, swoops through the emotional turmoil of a song like “Malang,” and Acharya’s camera seems to be dancing — and swooning — along with the performers. Cynics need not apply.

Film Review: 'Dhoom: 3'

Reviewed at Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino, Calif., Dec. 20, 2013. Running time: 171 MIN.

Production:

(India) A Yash Raj Films release and presentation. Produced by Aditya Chopra. Executive producers, Aashish Singh, Sanjay Shivalkar.

Crew:

Directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya. Screenplay, Acharya, Prakash Bharadwaj; story, Acharya, Aditya Chopra. Camera (color), Sudeep Chatterjee;  editor, Ritesh Soni; music, Pritam Chakraborty; background score, Julius Packiam; lyrics, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Kausar Munir, Sameer Anjaan; production designer, Sumit Basu; art director, Adri Siriwatt; costume designers, Manoshi Nath, Rushi Sharma, Anaita Shroff; makeup designer, Zsofia Otvos; sound, Debasish Mishra; sound designer, Ganesh Gangadharan; re-recording mixer, Anuj Mathur; visual effects supervisor, Joel Hynek; special effects coordinator, Joe Digaetano; choreographer, Vaibhavi Merchant; tap choreographer, Dein Perry; action directors, Conrad E. Palmisano, Sham Kaushal; stunt coordinator, Oliver Keller; casting, Shanoo Sharma.

With:

Aamir Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Uday Chopra, Jackie Shroff, Tabrett Bethell, Andrew Bicknell, Siddarth Nigam. 

More Film

  • First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’

    First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’ Feature Documentary

    Diego Maradona waves to raucous Napoli fans before heading into a media scrum and press conference in the first clip from the feature documentary about the soccer superstar. “Diego Maradona” is the third film from the team behind the award-winning “Senna” and “Amy,” with Asif Kapadia directing and James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin producing. They [...]

  • Raising Hell: The Life and Times

    Film Review: 'Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins'

    One of the more entertaining as well as insightful political commentators of the past half-century is paid a suitably entertaining tribute in “Raise Hell.” A long tall Texan too amusingly outrageous to draw real resentment from most of her targets, Molly Ivins nonetheless aimed stinging criticism at political figures both national and in her native [...]

  • The Lighthouse

    Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Unveils Lineup

    Robert Eggers’ anticipated “The Lighthouse” with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, Luca Guadagnino’s medium-length film “The Staggering Girl” and Japanese helmer Takashi Miike’s “First Love” are set to unspool at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight under the new leadership of Paolo Moretti. Described by Moretti as a “hypnotic two-hander” powered by Pattinson and Dafoe, “The Lighthouse” is [...]

  • Media Luna Acquires ‘We Had It

    Cannes Festival: Media Luna Takes ‘We Had It Coming,’ ‘The Friendly Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    In the run-up to next month’s Cannes Festival, Cologne-based Media Luna New Films has acquired international rights to “We Had It Coming,” starring Natalie Krill (“Wynonna Earp,” “Below Her Mouth”) and Brazil’s “The Friendly Man,” one of the standouts at Ventana Sur’s strong Copia Final showcase of near-finished Latin American movies. MK2 Mile End will [...]

  • ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Stars Make Emotional Speeches

    ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Stars Make Emotional Speeches at Historic Marvel Premiere

    If more than twenty worldwide blockbusters over ten years sounds like a big undertaking, try locking up the cell phones and smartwatches of Hollywood’s most important people for four hours. Only a franchise with the cache of the “Avengers” series could have A-list talent, celebrity fans, agents and executives gladly turn over their gadgets for [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' First Reactions: 'Most Emotional, Most Epic MCU Film'

    The end is finally here. “Avengers: Endgame” had its world premiere Monday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center and reactions on social media from fans, journalists and critics are already pouring in. The reaction has so far been almost universally positive, with several commentors warning fans of the movie’s emotional elements. Brandon Davis wrote [...]

  • Josh Brolin, Kathryn Boyd. Josh Brolin,

    'Avengers: Endgame's' Josh Brolin: Thanos' Butt Is a 'Beautiful, Purple Peach'

    On the eve of “Avengers: Endgame’s” world premiere, everyone’s thoughts have turned to the one crucial detail that could be the difference between life or death for the Avengers: Does Thanos have a butt? “I don’t know what that whole thing is about! I really don’t!” Josh Brolin, who plays Thanos, told Variety‘s Marc Malkin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content