Mumbai, 01 Apr 2022 16:07 IST
Updated: 02 Apr 2022 0:15 IST
The illogical film is not the no-nonsense action extravaganza promised by the trailers.
Over the past few years, Indian cinema has been taking giant steps in terms of approaching the quality of Hollywood productions. There are many filmmakers who are exploring new subjects and genres. But sci-fi is one genre where Indian cinema is still taking baby steps. Lack of huge budgets is a major reason, but it's not the only one. Somehow, Indian filmmakers are completely fine with blatantly copying their Hollywood counterparts' ideas instead of developing sci-fi projects that are in synch with Indian culture and don't require astronomical budgets.
John Abraham's much-awaited cyberpunk action thriller Attack is a mixture of RoboCop (1987) and the indie sci-fi film Upgrade (2018). Frankly, the flagrant plagiarism wouldn't have been an issue if the film had delivered on its promise of being a fun and engaging edge-of-the-seat action thriller. But, sadly, first-time writer-director Lakshya Raj Anand completely wastes this opportunity.
Few concepts awaken my inner child more than a physically enhanced no-nonsense super-soldier mowing down hordes of enemies. After watching the impressive trailers, I was stoked for this film and even ready not to nitpick about minor flaws. But, unfortunately, I could find not a single redeeming quality in the film.
Attack's premise is very basic. A brutal terrorist strike on an airport leaves soldier Arjun Sheirgill (John Abraham) paralyzed below the neck and claims the life of his girlfriend Aisha (Jacqueline Fernandez). When all hope is lost, the Indian military and a young scientist (Rakul Preet Singh) come up with an artificial intelligence implant that not only allows Arjun to move freely but also gives him superhuman strength, agility and access to all the information on all electronic devices.
With this new technology and his old combat skills, Arjun is now ready to defend his country once again and also exact revenge on the terrorists who destroyed his life. After the same extremists execute another attack — this time on Parliament — and capture the prime minister, Arjun must save the day and rescue the hostages.
Though simple, the premise is intriguing. But Lakshya Raj Anand fails to translate it on the big screen. The film begins with a thrilling action sequence that raises expectations. But immediately after that, the narrative takes a detour to depict the blossoming of Arjun and Aisha's relationship. Their first meeting is cringe-inducing. His effort to save her from a fall ends in an unintended kiss. The actress, who makes an extended cameo, doesn't have to do anything except appear gorgeous.
After getting paralyzed, Arjun, who could single-handedly take on multiple gun-wielding foes, cannot even eat food unaided. The filmmaker wants us to empathize with Arjun, who is now wheelchair-bound, but thanks to the subpar writing, the audience fails to connect emotionally with the character. And unlike the Upgrade protagonist, once Arjun receives his enhancements, he bounces back in a matter of days.
John's limitations as an actor also undermine the film. He is decent in the action sequences, but when it comes to displaying his character's emotional trauma, he falters. At regular intervals, the film tries to remind us that our hero is human after all and haunted by a tragic personal loss, but despite his best efforts, John fails to tug at our heartstrings.
The film requires the audience to suspend disbelief, and that is expected, but there are certain aspects that don't make sense at all. Despite being wheelchair-bound for over a year, and not moving a muscle, Arjun has still somehow maintained his beefy physique. Also, the government and the military readily agree to give the low-ranking soldier unrestricted access to all their data.
The hard work put in by the technical departments is evident — a few action scenes are well choreographed and there is some creative camerawork. But all this is undone by the lack of consistency. If one fight scene is engaging, others are poorly choreographed and picturized. The music is used to amp up the combat sequences. The soundtrack is composed in such a way that the beats of the song are perfectly in synch with each blow John lands on his enemies. This works initially but soon starts to feel overdone.
This is also the case with the VFX. On some occasions they are fine, but on others they stick out like a sore thumb. The choppy editing, especially during the climax scene, ruins whatever little fun is left in the film.
Prakash Raj, Rakul Preet and Rajit Kapur, who play key supporting roles, are saddled with poorly written parts. Rakul Preet is a nerdy scientist who spends most of her time in the lab. Prakash is completely wasted in the role of an army adviser. Ratna Pathak Shah, who appears only for five minutes, is totally absent in the second half.
Overall, Attack: Part 1 wastes an opportunity to create something unique and original in a relatively unexplored genre.
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