Prince -- Film Review

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Take every bad action movie cliche you can imagine, throw in a few dance numbers, a head-scratching amnesia plot and seven exploding Jeeps and you'll get an idea of what it's like to endure "Prince." A humorless thriller that seems much longer than its two-hour running time, "Prince" will end up a pauper at the boxoffice. Its producers, Tips, will blame the ongoing Indian Premiere League celebrity cricket series, but scathing word of mouth will seal its fate.

The film isn't likely to help its star, Vivek Oberoi, reclaim the respect he used to earn when he was known as a serious actor working with the likes of Ram Gopal Varma. Here, under the direction of first-timer Kookie V. Gulati, Oberoi plays Prince, a wealthy master thief with a basement full of high-tech gadgetry that would make Tony Stark jealous.

One morning at his Durban beach chalet, he wakes up with a headache and finds that his memory has been wiped clean. Who reformatted this guy's hard drive? Can the cops be trusted? And why does the villain have tweezed eyebrows and a metal hand?

The story, from the otherwise trustworthy Shiraz Ahmed ("Race," "Wanted"), sends Prince racing at lightning speed through double-cross after triple-cross until it reaches a point where we no longer care who's chasing whom or why.

The dialogue is a mishmash of tough-guy slogans and catchphrases ("It's showtime!" smirks Prince before a big diamond heist). The acting is among the worst in recent memory -- Prince's girlfriend, Maya (Aruna Shields), may or may not be a wax figurine.

Evil henchmen in ankle-length trench coats shoot at Prince at 20-foot range and can never seem to hit their target. Cars explode and fly into the air for no reason. Bad guys shoot out computer monitors.

Gulati, who has directed more than 100 music videos, says he is the first Indian director to map out a feature film using digital pre-visualization. But "Prince's" extensive action sequences have taken priority over story. It's regrettable, because Oberoi's talent and natural smarts have been squandered.

Opened: April 9 (Tips Films)
Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Aruna Sheilds, Nandana Sen, Neeru Singh, Sanjay Kapoor
Director: Kookie V. Gulati
Screenwriters: Shiraz Ahmed, Mayur Puri
Action director: Allan Amin
Producers: Renu Taurani, Kumar S. Taurani
Director of photography: Vishnu Rao
Production designer: Sukant Panigrahy
Music: Sachin Gupta
Choreographers: Bosco and Caesar, Pony Verma
Costume designer: Narendra Kumar
Editor Nicolas Trembasiewicz
Not rated, 130 minutes
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