By: Russ Matthews
Jane Harper is doing her bit to elevate Australian cinema with the sequel to her hit novel and subsequent film, The Dry.
Force of Nature brings back Federal Agent Aaron Faulk (Eric Bana) as he heads into the Victorian Giralang Ranges to investigate a missing person scenario.
As a means of building company morale and team building skills, Alice Russell (Anna Torv) is included in an inclusive group to go on this business retreat. Unbeknownst to the small group, she is also an informant for the federal government who is investigating her firm. At least Alice thinks that she hasn’t been discovered until she is isolated with her work colleagues and people start talking about why she was invited. After a few days, four of the five women who went on the hike come out of the bush hungry, battered and Alice has mysteriously gone missing. Detective Faulk and his working partner, agent Carmen Cooper (Jacqueline McKenzie), come to the remote site to help with the search. Yet, their purposes are different from the rest of the search and rescue team since Alice was their informant and they were still hoping to get the information that she had acquired prior to going on the trip.
The Dry was a welcomed surprise to Australian cinemas as it proved that well-written stories and quality productions could be delivered from these shores. Eric Bana embodies the federal agent with convincing depth amongst an ensemble cast of diverse characters. Harper manages to weave enough of this detective’s backstory into this mystery to justify his personal and professional involvement. Unlike the original tale set on the windswept, drought-stricken plains, this journey involves the rainforests of the Victorian mountains, which become a character within the storyline.
The ensemble cast each bring a unique element to this subtle thriller. Director Robert Connolly (The Dry) successfully balances the cast and includes enough plot twists to keep the audience guessing. Jacqueline McKenzie perfectly complements Bana’s relentless pursuit to find his informant, while Sisi Stringer and Lucy Ansell shine as the sisters in the team. The sequel may not surpass the original, but Jane Harper continues to demonstrate her storytelling prowess and she will captivates viewers as they attempt to solve the mystery.
REEL DIALOGUE: Can we be Redeemed?
Redemption was at the heart of Force of Nature. The key motivation for the majority of each character is to find redemption for their past mistakes. Some seek to make up for their past sins, others want to reconnect with family and friends, while others want to move toward a normal life.
These are some of life’s basic needs. Acceptance, forgiveness and redemption. Travelling through life, most of us come to a point of seeking redemption for various things that we have done. Trying to find a means of rectifying the wrongs we have done to people, society or God. This concept can be found at the heart of the Bible’s message. Jesus’ life and death provide a special type of redemption readily available to anyone willing to accept it.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. – Ephesians 1:7
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.