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  • Nate Adams

'Force of Nature: The Dry 2' review: Eric Bana returns as Aaron Falk in decent sequel


Courtesy of IFC Films

 

When “The Dry” was released during the doldrums of the pandemic, the Robert Connelly directed, Eric Bana-led crime caper was a welcome distraction from the health crisis happening around the world. I argued it was one of, if not, the best performance of Bana’s career. Well that same team has reunited for the sequel “Force of Nature,” which really doesn’t feel like a sequel to “The Dry,” aside from having Bana back as Australian Federal Police detective Aaron Falk. Nor does it have the same spark or steady rhythm compared to its predecessor, however, it looks better. Cinematographer Andrew Commis easily captures the beauty of the Victorian locations in the Great Otway National Park as well as the Dandenong Ranges and the Yarra Valley where the film was shot on location.  


Adapted from the series by Jane Harper, “Force of Nature,” similar to “The Dry,” sees Falk dealing with some internal trauma as it relates to a case he’s working on. In the first outing, Falk’s investigation brought up memories about a friend who tragically passed away in his youth. This time, an experience from his childhood plagues him, leaving you to wonder if there’s ever going to be a case that doesn’t trigger some repressed memories from this guy. That momentum stifling subplot is spliced into the main narrative, which revolves around the disappearance of a whistleblower named Alice (Anna Torv), who went on a corporate hiking retreat with four other women (played by Deborra-Lee Furness, Sisi Stringer, Lucy Ansell, and Robin McLeavy) in the fictional Giralang Ranges. 


Normally, a missing person incident doesn’t attract the attention of the federal government, but Falk was working with Alice on a case against her boss, Daniel Bailey (Richard Roxburgh), who the government believes is committing numerous financial crimes and using his company as a front for laundering money. The mystery around Alice’s whereabouts is engaging, but it’s also tough to pinpoint and it’s here where things get tricky. Did the company find out about Alice being a whistleblower and try to have her silenced? Or is she just an unpleasant person to work with and someone got a little hot headed? Whatever the cause, Falk will try deciphering it. 


He, of course, suspects foul play and begins interrogating everyone who made it back safely from the retreat in the hopes of weeding out any potential suspects. He’s also working with local law enforcement to search the vast wilderness for Alice before a major storm moves into the area. This is where “Force of Nature” thrives, as we get to see Bana in his element deducing what happened while Connelly alternates between the present day and whatever happened to the girls up in the mountains. It’s Bana that, once again, resonates the most playing the seasoned veteran who can never seem to shake his inner demons.


“Force of Nature” is a well produced, well shot, and well acted vehicle that builds on this expansive, gritty world and deepens our relationship with Falk. It loses its footing along the way by getting bogged down with numerous side-quests (including one involving the emergence of a decades-old serial killer), but it sets up the third and final installment so that you’ll want to come back and see how this character's arch might end.


Grade: B- 


FORCE OF NATURE: THE DRY 2 opens in theaters and on demand Friday, May 10th.   


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