Film Review: Force of Nature: The Dry 2

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Dave Bradley, delves into the latest Australian mystery thriller film, Force of Nature: The Dry 2 (M).

Eric Bana returns for this slightly delayed filming of Jane Harper’s second Aaron Falk novel, and this time it’s not quite as fresh, and not all that dry either (note that the subtitle The Dry 2 is on the ads and posters, but not on the film itself).

Again directed and co-produced by Robert Connolly, and with a script by him and Harper, this feels a little awkward to begin with, but it grows stronger and sharper as we go along. And the players certainly save it, with Connolly once more showing his knack for easing fine work from another impressive cast.

A team-building exercise involves sending five corporate workmates on a hike into the fictional Giralang Ranges (mostly the Dandenong Ranges), but only four of them to later emerge. Bana’s Aaron is drawn into the investigation due to his connection with the missing Alice (Anna Torv), and he and Agent Carmen (Jacqueline McKenzie) journey from Melbourne to question the survivors, none of whom, of course, seem entirely clear what exactly happened out there.

A complicated (and at times overly tricky) narrative then features Falk and Carmen trying to discover the truth, while flashbacks keep intruding and mixing up what went on in the wild, how Falk knew Alice, and glimpses of his childhood, and the life-changing experience that took place in this neck of the woods, ahem, forest 40 years ago.

It’s occasionally ever so slightly messy, but the ensemble keep it intriguing, with Torv’s troubled Alice matched by tough boss Jill (Deborra-Lee Furness), sisters Bree (Lucy Ansell as the newbie) and Beth (Sisi Stringer as the reformed addict), and meek Lauren (Robin McLeavy, almost stealing it as the office’s perennial victim). Their scenes together are the best here, with an edge that makes you wonder what the secret is, and who can be trusted. If anyone.

Bana is also naturally good as the haunted Falk although, at this point, the character is, here and there, so withdrawn and inexpressive that he almost impedes the investigation, and you really can’t believe that McKenzie’s Carmen doesn’t give him a slap.

3.5 out of 5 STARS

Force Of Nature is in cinemas now

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