Film: “Force 2”; Director: Abhinay Deo; Cast: John Abraham, Tahir Raj Bhasin and Sonakshi Sinha; Rating: ****

There is something inherently attractive about people who fight for their country at the risk of losing their lives. We recently saw Akshay Kumar doing it in the outstanding Neeraj Pandey actioner “Baby”.

Now it’s John Abraham’s turn. And trust me, he is good at it. The scowl and the skill that go into every punch and jump will make you believe he is well-equipped to defend our nation from damnation. Even in these hard times of demonetization, when money for entertainment is hard to find, John’s action scenes are well worth our hard bucks.

Harshvardhan, the RAW agent that John plays in “Force 2” leads a strangely sexless life. He does take off his shirt twice, one in his introductory scene in a parking lot where he lifts a car carrying goons without batting an eyelid. In another sequence, a blonde prostitute insists on taking off his towel in a hotel room for a serious post-bath session of mutual admiration.

Our hero’s reaction is priceless. “Chal hatt, Saali’ (or some such). This is Bond and Bourne without no appetite for the babes.

It’s been five years since his wife died. Harshvardhan continues to talk to her ghost. Genelia D’Souza makes a sexy ghost for sure and one well worth having a conversation with.

Espionage is a job often misunderstood misinterpreted and subverted by Indian cinema. “Baby” got it right. “Force 2” also gets it right most of the way. There is a sense of urgency and imminent danger lurking in excellently-shot foreign locations that keeps our attention from straying. Here, the locations are not props for the action. They are the reason for the action.

I have to admit that some of the action in the first-half is world class. And my congratulations to the master blasters who have devised the cat-and-mouse chase between John and Tahir Raj Bhasin on the roopftops of Budapest. Imre Juhasz and Mohana Krishna wield the camera with a delightful swagger. In the climax, during the shootout, the gun shots are captured from the audiences’ viewpoint, as though to remind us that the days of enjoying screen action vicariously are over.

If you want to enjoy the action, then be a part of it.

“Force 2” takes us right into the thick of things. Apart from a horribly choreographed and rendered item song (Sridevi should sue for what’s been done with her mythical ‘Kaante nahin katt’), the narrative is unwavering in its determination to keep the momentum from flagging. John Abraham holds up the brawn factor with an arresting elan. He is definitely our best action hero after Akshay Kumar.

But it’s Tahir Raj Bhasin as the defecting RAW agent who is written as a villain with denuded of viciousness. Bhasin brings a childlike delight to his role of a revenge-seeking terrorist. He has some of the best lines and scenes, and John sportingly allows Bhasin to have fun with his role.

In one sequence, where Bhasin is being interrogated stark-naked (no blood and gore in this film, though), he looks at the only female agent in the room and asks if he can put on some clothes if the lady has finished feasting her eyes.

There is a refreshing absence of one-upmanship in the cat-and-mouse game. Instead, a compelling balance is created on the moral campus so that after a point the good guys becameA interchangeable with the bad guys. And the feeling of partriotic propriety dissolves into a growing sense of easiness in a world that no longer keeps the right removed from the wrong.

“Force 2” is not a great one for spreading the message of peace. It would rather do its job of giving us stunts that keep us riveted to our seats. But it does bring up the issue of a very disturbing political tragedy whereby those who are caught spying, are disowned by their own country. It’s a chilling thought on betrayal and loss, not quite the mood that this upbeat fiery and feisty actioner wants to dwell on. But it really can’t really help acquiring a conscience while taking a well-aimed shot at giving Hollywood stunts films a run for their money.

By Subhash K. Jha

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