Attack—Part 1 is half-baked tale on Artificial Intelligence in war

John Abraham plays a super-soldier in Attack—Part 1. Photo: Universal Comminications.

Arjun Shergill (John Abraham) is an officer in the anti-terrorist cell, known for daring missions. In one such attack on militants, he arrests a well-known mastermind. But he saves and spares a young guy who has been made into a human bomb. That is in 2010.

In present day, a city airport is attacked by terrorists, and Arjun, who happens to be there to receive his flight attendant girlfriend, Ayesha (Jacqueline Fernandez), gets severely injured, while she is killed in the militants’ fire. He is paralyzed almost completely and feels even more helpless when his home is robbed one night and, being wheelchair-bound, he cannot even protect his mother (Ratna Pathak Shah) from being attacked.

The doctors declare that Arjun will be handicapped for life, but Arjun’s boss, Subramaniam (Prakash Raj) wants him back in action. How? A scientist, Dr. Saba (Rakul Preet Singh) is working on Artificial Intelligence (AI). She is on the verge of a breakthrough but needs a human subject to try out a revolutionary chip that can be inserted into an injured man’s body. With that, the man can be back on his feet and can develop superhuman powers—physical and mental. But for that, terms and conditions must be met.

Arjun is told that the current terror mastermind is Hamid Gul (Elham Ahsas), the same ‘boy’ he spared in 2010. Arjun is more than ready despite the threat to his life if the experiment fails. There are some restrictions, however, on the potential super-soldier: he cannot take certain physical risks, and his emotional memories can prevent fruitful action. A plus point is that he is equipped with all relevant data, including a certain amount of rare foresight, like knowing when Hamid Gul is in the vicinity, through the talking and super-clever AI voice within him.

Arjun now comes to know that Parliament is under attack by Hamid Gul and his forces, posing as India’s Rapid Action Force. As they storm and capture Parliament, hold 300 people hostage, abduct the Prime Minister and lay down their terms, it is left to Arjun to foil their plans. Saba too happens to be in Parliament, while the home minister (Rajit Kapur) is clashing with Subramaniam and the army chief (Kiran Kumar) over how to handle the terrorists.

In a chain of patriotic and espionage dramas that in recent times began about half-a-decade back, Attack—Part 1is easily the most half-baked, bent desperately on cashing in only on John Abraham’s rippling muscles. Come to think of it, how did Arjun maintain his musculature when his body was paralyzed, presumably at least for some months? Never mind, writer-director Lakshya Raj Anand does not want you to think at all, as he gives us technical gobbledygook, dressed up as smart razzmatazz. Of course, there is a surfeit of action, a la Hollywood actioners. But in those, even the illogic is made to look plausible, which is not the case here!

From the fact that he spared Hamid as a kid, we know Arjun is an emotional man, and that is enhanced when we see him falling for Ayesha. Now that Ayesha is dead and a barrage of memories continue to torment him, his emotions are going to come in the way of the super soldier.

From here on, like Romeo Akbar Walter and John’s Batla House (not to mention the abominable triple-John calamity Satyameva Jayate 2), we find the film trying its best to cash in on success—of other films in this genre. Shergill, Arjun’s surname, is straight out of URI—The Surgical Strike. So is the music director, Shashwat Sachdev, whose songs here are pathetic (and again with a heavy Punjabi influence and today’s style of cloying vocals) and background music too loud and intrusive.

The cinematography (Will Humphris, P.S. Vinod and Soumik Mukherjee) is average, given today’s high standards, and the performances ditto, again when compared with current norms. Names as eminent as Ratna Pathak Shah and Rajit Kapur are wasted, and Rakul Preet Singh gets one of her most underdeveloped characters, sans any kind of graph. Jacqueline dies after a few scenes and a song or two, just like in Bachchhan Paandey a few weeks ago.

The script is the biggest culprit, and the director cannot make even fanciful things like a terror attack first on an airport and then on Parliament look convincing. What was the Indian intelligence (the real one, not the artificial!) doing in between the airport attack and the one on Parliament? Yes, we do know that India had failed in the past in real cases, but given today’s scenario, we should have at least had a discussion on this failure, which was there even in Bellbottom set in Congress times.

And though set in present-day, we have a politician mouthing the atrocious line, “Nowadays, soldiers seem to have excessive josh (spirit)!” More, in a first since Border 25 years ago, this film shows everything (like the good old spy movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s) but does not specifically mention Pakistan as the culprit. Some media colleagues even lauded this brand of “patriotism”! Well, how many countries where people speak Urdu are around India?

Leave aside this timidity, Attack—Part 1’s novelty of Artificial Intelligence is soon set aside for a full-blown tale of a muscular he-man and his testosterone action. Only when convenient does the hi-tech aspect come in. But the tension and drama created is barely powerful and the end is totally predictable.

Sorry, we erred. What was unpredictable was the intolerably tepid end to Hamid Gul. When a villain is very evil (forget the fact that Elham Ahsas looks like a white unshaved lover-boy more than a Pakistani devil!), the end should justify the villainy. But the climax leaves us strangely ungratified.

John Abraham should now have a sharper sense of scripts and projects. His recent track-record shows that he is easily conned by proposal makers. If he must do the fist-heavy kind of a project with a deshprem slant, he should steer clear of proposal makers, especially if they want him to invest more than just as actor in their films.

Rating: **

Pen Studios, JA Entertainment & AK Productions present Attack—Part 1  Produced by: Dr. Jayantilal Gada, John Abraham & Ajay Kapoor Directed by : Lakshya Raj Anand  Written by: John Abraham, Lakshya Raj Anand, Sumit Batheja & Vishal Kapoor Music: Shashwat Sachdev  Starring: John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez, Rakul Preet Singh, Prakash Raj, Kiran Kumar, Rajit Kapur, Ratna Pathak Shah, Ehlam Ahsas, Babrik Akbari, Roshni Singh & others




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