John Abraham’s Attack tries and almost succeeds to be a Bollywood equivalent of a sci-fi/action movie. The story, of course, is nothing new. In fact, it is more or less what the actor did in another action film in 2011 called Force.
John plays Indian Army soldier Arjun Shergill, who meets the ‘love of his life’, Aisha, played by Jacqueline Fernandez during a flight, and it is smooth sailing thereafter until she is killed in a terrorist attack at Delhi airport. The attack also leads to John’s character being paralysed neck downwards.
What follows is a lot of action, and some science, explained by Rakul Preet Singh’s character Saba Qureshi.
Action, AI and VFX
The film is based on the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) exoskeleton programme, creating suits aimed at helping soldiers during combat and programmed to carry heavy loads. Exoskeletons or exo-suits are worn by soldiers over their regular uniforms to augment strength. They have special devices and Artificial Intelligence to enhance the capabilities of a soldier.
The movie makes Arjun Shergill a ‘Winter Soldier’ of sorts, albeit not rogue unless you count the incident where he goes to retrieve his mother’s ring from a robber. There is absolutely no doubt that the movie’s visual effects, computer-generated imagery (CGI) and general action scenes are unlike what you usually see in Bollywood films, but we have already encountered similar sequences in Robot (2010) and its sequel 2.0 (2018). John Abraham shines in the action sequences and keeps you engaged. Not to mention his physique, which is of course, top-notch.
The unbelievable action scenes are at least justified by the logic that John has attained superhuman powers because of the AI, and not that he is an ordinary villain-beating Bollywood action hero.
Deshbhakti and duty minus jingoism
Attack gives out a generous dose of nationalistic fervour but does not venture into jingoism at any point. Pakistan is not named even once throughout the movie.
The Parliament attack that forms the core of the action sequence is not a reference to the actual attack. It is more a White House Down (2013) or Olympus has Fallen (2013) styled fictional plot that needs just one guy to save everyone.
Protecting the country finds focus in the film without ‘Bharat mata’ and chest-thumping being a constant crutch every few minutes. It is a nod to how, as a nation, India has made leaps in technology, especially, that which is indigenously developed.
One just wishes the filmmakers had invested a bit in the movie’s dialogues as much as they do setting the scene. The dialogues in the film are so bad that it makes 90s movies look amazing. At one very tender, emotional moment, Jacquelin’s character calls John Abraham ‘chomu’, out of affection. Dialogues like ‘main is duniya main tumhare liye ayi hu,’ do not hold grain, at least not in 2022, and especially not in the way Jacqueline delivers them.
The emotional moments largely fall short, and you never get as invested in the love story as is required to feel the pain of Arjun’s loss. Nevertheless, you might still cheer when he bashes the bad guys with video game aesthetics.
In short, there are two reasons to watch Attack — one, if you are a diehard fan of John Abraham who can watch anything he does on a big screen, and two, you love action, especially the kind one sees in games like Counter-Strike or PubG or in Hollywood action/sci-fi films.
(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)