Directed by Anubhav Sinha. Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Armaan Verma, Tom Wu, and Arjun Rampal. Now playing
Opening on Diwali weekend to great expectations, RA.One is a sci-fi film with an unprecedented budget, cutting-edge visual effects, and a huge star. Alas, though the film does provide a lovely collage of shiny computer graphics, its narrative power doesn’t quite keep you in the game.
The film begins in London where Shekhar Subramanium (played as a south Indian stereotype by Shah Rukh Khan) is a kind and inept video-game developer who constantly embarrasses his son Prateek (Armaan Verma). At his son’s request, Shekhar develops a video game in which the villain is more powerful than the hero. RA.One, (a play on Ravana from the Hindu epic Ramayana), is programmed to adapt. G.One, (a play on jivan, the Hindi word for life) is his opponent. As one would expect, the characters develop self-awareness and break out of the game.
The shape-shifting RA.One (played by Tom Wu and then Arjun Rampal) is intent on killing Prateek. His mother Sonia (Kareena Kapoor) tries to protect him with the assistance of the embodied G.One (Shah Rukh Khan), who flees with them to India. With a particular nod to Terminator 2, the rest of the film consists of the good guys running from the bad ones. There are multiple fight sequences that defy physics and often logic, chase scenes of every kind, and things that go boom with great spectacle.
However, there are also gaping holes in the plot that keep the viewer from committing to the universe established in the film. The music provides relief with two numbers sung by Akon and another, which is a compelling multilingual remake of “Stand by Me”. With crass humour and long sequences so saturated with computer graphics that they feel like animation, this film is best suited only to very young gamers.
Watch the trailer for RA.One.