Director Lakshya Raj Anand’s ‘Attack – Part 1’ is a well-made film that marries sci-fi and action tropes astutely.
It’s the straightforward origin story of the artificially induced super soldier Arjun Shergil. The prologue shows us a random successful “comb the area and capture the target” operation of a highly efficient platoon of the Indian Army headed by the diligent soldier Arjun in circa November 2010. The target is the notorious terrorist Rehman Gul (Habib Aidroos).
Then we are transported to the present day, where we witness Arjun meeting air hostess Ayesha (Jaqueline Fernandes) and as their romance blossoms, on one fateful day, in a terror attack at the Mumbai airport, Ayesha loses her life and Arjun lies injured on the floor. This action-packed scene in the first act of the film sets the ball rolling. What next?
We soon learn that Arjun, who is nursed by his mother Shanti Shergil (Ratna Patak Shah), has damaged his C1 and C2 vertebrae, and is rendered paralysed for life.
Meanwhile, as a result of constant treats from terrorists, the government is on tenterhooks and V.K. Subramaniam (Prakash Raj), a high-ranking official, emulating America, Russia and Israel, promotes the human testing of the ‘Artificial Intelligence Super Soldier Programme’, which is home-designed by scientist Saba Qureshi (Rakul Preet Singh).
It involves a computer chip being inserted into the brain after an invasive surgery. The chip recalibrates the neural bonding in the brain. This invention, though, has its own limitations, which works as a deux en machina (or an unexpected power that saves what seems like a hopeless situation) in the plot.
The only person who fits Saba Qureshi’s bill to undergo the human trial of the AI Super Soldier Programme is Arjun Shergil. So, when Parliament is infiltrated by terrorists helmed by Rehman Gul’s son Hamid (Elham Ehsas), Arjun is called in.
Though this is an action thriller – intense and frenetic, the writing of the film is taut and well-balanced. Some of the dialogues are crisp and noteworthy, especially when Subramaniam takes potshots at Home Minister Digvijay (Rajit Kapur).
The film is slickly shot and the director wastes no time getting to the action. He deploys every trick in the VFX toolkit in an attempt to dazzle, but a frustrating over-reliance on sub-par digital frames means that much of the film’s big-ticket action appears grainy and of mediocre quality.
With an author-backed role, John Abraham delivers an earnest performance and is aptly supported by the rest of the cast with equal fervour. Jacqueline and Rakul have limited screen time and they are sincere in their delivery.
But the two actors who stay in your mindspace after the film is over are Rajit Kapur, who essays the role of Digvijay, the Home Minister, and Elham Ehsas, the antagonist Hamid Gul. Both shine in their own respective manner on screen.
Serena Walia’s voice is effectively used as IRA, the computer voice that communicates with Arjun.
Overall, the film is well-written, but the story seems to be an amalgamation of many sci-fi English films. The main crux of the terrorist attack seems to be inspired by Hollywood – Gerard Butler’s ‘Fallen’ series, especially the 2013 film ‘Olympus Has Fallen’.
Film: Attack – Part 1
Director: Lakshya Raj Anand
Cast: John Abraham, Rakul Preet Singh, Jaqueline Fernandes, Elham Ehsas and Amritpal Singh.
Duration: 123 minutes.
–By Troy Ribeiro