• Release Date: 01/04/2022
  • Cast: John Abraham, Rakul Preet Singh, Prakash Raj, Rajit Kapur, Jacqueline Fernandez
  • Director: Lakshya Raj Anand

In Lakshya Raj Anand’s Attack, John Abraham plays an Indian Army officer who is paralyzed while trying to fight a host of terrorists gunning down people in an airport during a 26/11-like attack. John not only loses his body to the attack but also the love of his life –- played by Jacqueline Fernandez. He spends the next few years strapped to a chair with nothing else to do but re-live the horrors of the event that took away his love from him.

A snap from Attack

Things take an interesting turn when Prakash Raj, a high-ranking Indian Army officer gives him a second chance at life by asking him to volunteer for an experimental hi-tech surgery that would not only help him to get back on his feet but will also transform him into India’s first super-soldier. With nothing to lose and an entire film to take forward, John agrees to the medical intervention. Soon, he is turned into a super-soldier and then spends the rest of the film trying to synchronize with the Artificial Intelligence system that powers his body and foiling a sinister terrorist plot that involves attacking the parliament and planting a nerve bomb that threatens to decimate Delhi.

A film like ‘Attack‘ is a rarity in Bollywood and a step in the right direction. This is why I went into this film in the first place and wanted to like it. Sadly, there aren’t too many positives to take back home from this film. A lot of the film’s appeal and chances of success depended on the execution of it and certain elements of it had to be spot on to have the desired impact and infuse the narrative with seriousness and thrills. Unfortunately, the film fails on these aspects miserably resulting in a mediocre experience for the audiences at best. Whether it was a lack of budget or the inability to improvise on the part of the director is a matter of debate but what is abundantly clear is the fact that the film failed to extract that wow factor that was an absolute necessity for it to lure the audiences into its fold and narrative.

John Abraham has proved time and again that when he is given a character that suits his deadpan mannerisms, he can be effective. Over the years he has got better at doing characters like the one that he has here and he does bring his trademark charm and machismo to the role. John Abraham fans will love every minute that the man spends on the screen but that might not be the case with the others. They will realize after a few action sequences that the director’s vision of the super-soldier and John’s inability to be supple and light on his feet for obvious reasons constantly keeps pushing the action sequences to a corner that the director doesn’t know how to get out of. This result in action sequences that are shot mostly in close-ups or mid-range shots from odd angles, is hyper-edited and is a confusing mess that one cannot make much sense of.

John Abraham in Attack

The film comes at a time when people like me are fresh from the euphoria of RRR’s imaginative, expansive and thrilling action sequences. At a time like this, the inadequacies of the leading man to execute the action in a way that the director intended it to hits the film hard. One also has to blame the cinematography and editing for ruining the action sequences further and completely diluting the impact of the sequences that should have been physical and affecting.

While researching for this review, I found that the cinematography for the film was attributed to three different cinematographers who could not have been more different. Will Humphris is known for mostly short films. Soumik Mukherjee shot Thappad and Batla House. P.S. Vinod is a south Indian heavyweight who shot sleek action films like Dhruva and Vikram Vedha. Now imagine the vision and sensibilities of these men put into the visual palate of a single film. While watching the film, I could easily sense a disconnect between the material, mood, and gusto of the film and how it was being realized in different sequences.

I absolutely hated the handheld camera moves and how it was used particularly in the action sequences. The cinematographer probably wanted to communicate the haphazard feeling of the unfolding actions through these jerky motions but instead ended up giving me a motion-induced headache. The editing by Aarif Sheikh is no less guilty of rendering the action in such a way that it is practically impossible to comprehend what is unfolding. The fast cuts might have worked but the arrangement of the shots coupled with the camera work ensures that we have to imagine what might have happened in between and fill in the gaps that the visual presentation left for us to decipher.

A film like this needed a powerful antagonist to match up to the overpowering persona of the leading man. Sadly Elham Ehsas, who was a child protégé, isn’t able to match John Abraham in either screen presence or intimidation. The matter isn’t helped by the fact that he is dispatched with such ease by John that it begged the question that why couldn’t he do the same a little earlier. Elham huffs and puffs and mouths serious and sinister dialogues but in the end, is ineffective and further brings down the thrill and tension of the film. Veterans like Prakash Raj and Rajit Kapur are given strictly generic and one-dimensional roles that they sleep-walk through without extracting any emotions from the audiences. The lesser said about Jacqueline and Rakul Preet Singh, the better.

Attack had its heart in the right place but that alone is not enough to result in a good film. For a plot of this nature, the execution had to be spot on and that is where the film failed miserably. John Abraham was effective as the protagonist but that cannot be said about the rest of the cast who were ordinary at best. A tiring and ineffective romantic track does nothing more than screeching the screenplay to frequent halts. The many songs and the background score are strictly average. You can give this film a miss in theatres and watch it when it comes out on OTT later if you are interested in it.

Rating: 2/5 (2 out of 5 Stars)

Also read | RRR: Epitome of Mass Entertainment with rich visuals, heartfelt drama

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