Film Review: Dhoom: 3

Third in the popular series finds Indian cops pursuing a mysterious bank robber in Chicago.

A huge draw in India, the Dhoom films offer top-of-the-line stunts and action, glamorous locations, and outstanding song-and-dance routines. The third entry, already a hit in India, enjoyed a record North American opening for a Bollywood movie, earning over $3 million in over 200 theatres this past weekend.

Returning in this entry are the stoic, focused Mumbai cop Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) and his underling Ali (Uday Chopra), whose braggadocio and women-chasing provide comic relief. After a long chase scene in Mumbai, the two are sent to Chicago to investigate a series of daring bank robberies.

The robberies stem from an incident in 1990 when an officer of the Chicago Western Bank foreclosed on the bankrupt Great Indian Circus, leading to the suicide of its owner (Jackie Shroff). His son Sahir dedicates his life to revenge.

Twenty-five years later, Sahir, now played by Aamir Khan, resurrects the circus, a combination of Stomp tap dances and Cirque du Soleil acrobatics headquartered in what Chicagoans might recognize as the Shedd Aquarium. One of the best bits in the film comes when Sahir auditions Aaliya (Katrina Kaif) for the leading-lady role. She tears through a knockout routine that catapults her around stage scaffolding, a dazzling display of choreography.

Circus skills come in handy when Sahir robs Chicago Western branches. Rather than make quick, undetected getaways, he runs down skyscraper façades, hundred-dollar bills raining behind him, before jumping onto a motorcycle to lead cops on prolonged chases through the streets of the city. Heavily augmented with CGI, these sequences are liable to end up on elevated railways, in the river, or in other countries entirely.

Jai and Ali seem powerless to stop Sahir, whose escapades dominate much of the movie. The screenplay gives Khan the opportunity to display all of his acting chops, from a glowering, stomping villain who snarls his lines to a sweet-natured idiot savant fascinated by amusement-park rides.

Dhoom movies tend to focus on bad guys, but in this entry Jai and Ali fade so far into the background that they could have been played by anyone. Also shortchanged is Kaif, a powerhouse performer who deserves more screen time. Khan is basically the whole show here, and writer-director Acharya makes the most of his star power.

Dhoom: 3 cheerfully pillages bits and pieces of everything from Flashdance to Fast Five, wrapping everything up in gaudy colors and pulsing beats. Fans will find this irresistible, and even curmudgeons will be forced to admit that the movie's nearly three-hour running time speeds by.