The sibling directors Abbas-Mustan must be laughing up their matching white sleeves, wondering how a cheerfully tacky but occasionally enjoyable franchise built on the themes of seduction and betrayal could get derailed in such spectacular fashion.

Compared to the third of the Race movies, the first two productions, directed by the brothers and featuring a cast led by a slinky and highly effective Saif Ali Khan, come off as superbly plotted and sophisticated thrillers. Race 3 has a new director, Remo, and has replaced one Khan with another. Salman Khan leads a pack of unworthies who squabble over inheritance while trying to procure a hard disk that has the dirt on the sexual shenanigans of Indian politicians. Most of the principal cast comprises Salman Khan’s loyalists, but this employment guarantee scheme is a mess from the start.

Salman Khan plays Sikandar, the nephew of ruthless arms dealer Shamsher (Anil Kapoor), whose domestic life is forever threatening to derail his business transactions. Shamsher is surrounded by Sikandar, his twin children (Saqib Saleem and Daisy Shah), a faithful retainer (Sharat Saxena) and a bodyguard (Bobby Deol). Arch-enemy Rana (Freddy Daruwala) appears to be a threat, but Shamsher’s bigger problem is a will that leaves a chunk of the estate to Sikandar instead of to his own children.

Shamsher’s retirement plan is to use the incriminating hard disk to blackmail the politicians, for which he sends Sikandar into battle. Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez), a pole dancer with shifting loyalties, swings this way and that, romancing Sikandar but also batting her lashes at Bobby Deol’s Yash. “Itne saare jhatke, when is this going to end man!” Jessica says at one point, echoing the sentiments of the ticket holders snoozing in their seats.

The unpardonably long movie (160 minutes) has been directed by choreographer-turned-director Remo, who appears to have been too much in awe of his leading man to have actually given him any basic instructions on the sets. The dialogue strains to be funny, and provokes humour in the wrong places. The action sequences are of the same vintage as Khan’s movies from the 1990s.

Among the cast, only Anil Kapoor earns his pay cheque with some dignity. Salman Khan, in keeping with his plastic He Man look, strains every sinew and takes off his shirt in the by-now-obligatory chest-baring sequence, but even die-hard fans are likely to find the going tough.

Race 3 (2018).