ACP Yashvardhan (John Abraham) enters into the frame for the first time in director Abhinay Deo’s Force 2 in a crisp, sparkling white shirt and cargoes, and the audience in the cinema hall hoots and whistles in joy. That’s the last time that shirt retains its lineage to Snow White, and is eventually dwarfed by John Abraham’s wondrously sculpted body. More of that later, but this scene will have you grimace in pain, as a rusted nail embeds its way into Abraham’s left shoulder. And he leaves it to you to feel the skin and flesh rupture, while he goes about doing other superhuman activities.
Force 2 has a scintillating start. Three RAW agents, all involved in counter-espionage, are killed one after the other. The scenes flick from Beijing to Guanghzhou to Shanghai, each assassination a chilling thrill for life in a cinema hall. If your keenly senses, tuned by years of watching espionage movies, lead you to assume that Yashvardhan will be tasked to get the perpetrators, you assume right. The first step toward draggling the unknown mastermind is a cryptic clue that Yashvardhan receives in a courier from a writing beyond the grave, that also rustles up some flashback scenes. Director Abhinay Deo, fortunately, does not linger on these emotions for far too long, and to prove that Yashvardhan is a winsome combination of brawn and brain, makes him crack the code with a celerity that would leave Robert Langdon “What ho-ing” in grudging admiration – after all, it takes the cryptologist the entire length of a movie to figure stuff out.
This leads to Yashvardhan landing up at the RAW HQ, some sparring with the head, Anjan (Narendra Jha) and finally being teamed up with Kamaljit Kaur, a.k.a KK (Sonakshi Sinha), eastern European division in-charge, who has a pretty nose for processes and procedures. There’s some very predictable banter about the name (KK) and about who’s in charge, but these are minor distractions, as the duo flies into Budapest, thanks to that code that the ACP broke and gave Langdon a brown complex. From here on, Force 2 is super fun, and if you leave aside your Olympiad-solving intuition, you’ll have a roller-coaster ride of action and thrills, especially when you meet Shiv Sharma (Tahir Raj Bhasin).
Director Deo employs a breathless, aerially shot roof-top chase sequence, as Yashvardhan and Sharma do a gazelle-inspired, graceful run, and you gasp and gape in admiration at Budapest and at the action. There’s solid movements, as John Abraham hammers his way through doorways and houses, splintering wood and leaving you awestruck, and the chase continues, climaxing into a painful fall for both, preceded by Yashvardhan’s display of muscular force as he pulls down a fire-landing structure, leading to a beautifully choreographed face-to-face dangling confrontation. There’s also lot of delicious meat in the cat-and-mouse games between Yashvardhan-KK and Shiv Sharma, which also means there’s niftily shot car-chases and bullets zinging across speeding vehicles. And a bullet from a helicopter that finds its mark shatters into the interval calling card leaves you wanting more, as you, depending on your dietary preferences, chew on your samosas or finger-nails.
For the most part, director Abhinay Deo’s sure-footed and adroit moves behind the lens ensure that Force 2 is an entertaining and slick watch, as the action and thrills continue into the second-half. Deo shoots a very chilling aerial shot of umbrellas in the rain for the opening killing in Guanghzhou – so reminiscent of Rahul Rawail’s magnificent murder scene for Arjun – the latter sequence giving you extra goose-bumps and shivers, aided in no small measure by Rahul Dev Burman’s score – the sycophantic bongos and the composer’s haunting vocals, all pumped up by manically building up male chorals. Deo also employs, perhaps for the first time in Hindi cinema, the POV camera in the climactic action sequences, that make them another sparkling highlight in the action.
Where the movie is let down is by the Bangalore-sized potholes in the plot. And more importantly, by the driving force that writers Parveez Shaikh and Jasmeet K. Reen motorize behind Shiv Sharma’s reason for doing what he does. And yet something does nag you about the point it raises, and about the choices that a few men and women of countries make, leaving them unsung and unaccounted, and their families in sheer despair in the bleakness of life’s flickering shadows – while the majority of us rock and troll on social media.
The background score by Prasad Sashte is crackling, as he employs the right amount of thump and pace to keep up with the action onscreen. Sashte also assigns a theme music for the villain, a long-lost and forgotten delightful prop – and here, it’s a mouth organ piece that took me back to Rahul Dev Burman’s unending desert and valley-of-death theme for Kachche Heere. Composer Gourov Roshin gets one shot at composing a mystery-filled cabaret when Abraham and Sinha enter a club to pursue an informant. However, unlike in the cabarets gone-past – where, the song and its lyrics would actually wink-wink and hint-hint at something ominous to come – here, O Janiya is a more ho-than-hum version of Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s loud blockbuster, Kaate Nahin Kat Te (Mr. India).
Sonakshi Sinha is very effective and spunky in her role as KK, revelling in her shootout scenes and also providing empathy as a foil to the hero’s cross-haired focus on the task at hand. Although you do wish the make-up department had gone easy on her, especially in the scene where she and John Abraham converge on the villain’s apartment for the first time – believe it or blush, it’s a little too much. Between Sonakshi’s emotional KK and Abraham’s stoic Yashvardhan is the highlight performance of Force 2. As Shiv Sharma, Tahir Raj Bhasin is simply outstanding, his expressions a riot of bemusement, amusement, and assured sarcasm. And when the actor playing the lead villain distils out so much of fun and revels in the role, how can you remain unaffected?
And, in Force 2, John Abraham nails it. And that’s also thanks to the director, who ensures no unnecessary strain is heaped on the actor’s acting muscles – the former draws very firm and clear circles of operation within which the latter operates, very much like the character he portrays. John Abraham is clinically efficient, absolutely tops in the action scenes, and even when he does display his lop-sided smirk, it is to Adil Hussain (sadly underused) playing minister Brijesh Yadav – and that expression hits the nail on the head. There’s a lot of Abraham’s body at display. And to his credit, he makes this a 360-degree exercise in voyeurism – unlike say, Salman Khan, who seems eager to take off his shirt just to get a reaction – an almost lackadaisical and I-don’t-care-if-you-look demeanour, but secretly looking at you to see if you like. And yes, arousing wistful stares from men (What does he eat? What protein shake does he drink?) and women (What a dish. What a protein shake). Which is why, I suspect, even though the scene that follows the club song is such a silly and an unnecessary one, no one in the almost houseful cinema hall seemed to mind, so long as John Abraham was in a towel. And which is also why, you needn’t worry about that rusted nail. For, why would Yashvardhan need an antiseptic? – he’s got the power of biceptics and triceptics.
Force 2 is rated A (restricted to adults). There’s violence, there’s that nail in John Abraham’s body, there’s that body on display, and a silly seduction scene.
Director Abhinay Deo Running Time 2h 7 min
Writers Jasmeet K. Reen, Parveez Sheikh
Stars John Abraham, Sonakshi Sinha, Tahir Raj Bhasin
Genres Action, Adventure, Crime
Watch the trailer of Force 2 here: