It’s Show Time!

Force of Nature 
Australia, 2024, 120 minutes, Colour.
Cast:  Eric Bana, Anna Torv, Deborra-Lee Furness, Robin McLeavy, Sisi Stringer, Lucy Ansell, Jacqueline McKenzie, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Richard Roxburgh, Tony Briggs, Kenneth Radley, Archie Thomson, Ash Ricardo, Ingrid Torelli, Matilda May Pawsey.
Directed by Robert Connolly.


Novelist, Jane Harper, has had considerable success, critical and popular, with her detective stories featuring Federal Police investigator, Aaron Falk.

On screen, writer-director, Robert Connolly (Balibo, Blueback) directed Jane Harper’s novel, The Dry, popular with Australian audiences – and overseas. It introduced Eric Bana as the detective, in the desert outback of Northwestern Victoria, the complexities of life in the town, family relationships, murder.

While Force of Nature is advertised in the media as The Dry 2, that subtitle does not appear in this film at all. In fact, the temptation must have been to call this investigation The Wet or The Damp (not attractive marquee titles). Rather, there is the force of nature in the mountain terrains where the action takes place, filmed in the Otway Ranges, the Dandenongs just outside Melbourne, the Yarra Valley. And, the scenery is often beautiful, moments breathtaking, mountains, forests, valleys, creeks, waterfall.

The occasion for the action is one of those team-building retreats popular with some corporations. This time there is a focus on a group of women employees in an international company which, in fact, is under investigation by the Federal Police, donations to charities but also the funding of human trafficking, money-laundering… And the face of the company for the film is veteran, Richard Roxburgh.

However, it is his wife, played by Deborra Lee Furness, strong-minded, employing the women, testing them, leading them out into the mountains, wanting to bind them together. But, at the film’s opening, Aaron Falk receives a phone call from one of the team members, is cut-off. The audience then sees some of the members of the group emerging from the bush, onto a road, hailing down traffic, but the revelation that one of the team is missing, the woman who made the phone call, Alice.

The screenplay for the film, by Robert Connolly, parallels the structure of novels, bringing one episode to a climax or moment of tension, then moving to another aspect of the story, then another, and back, developing the narrative, creating issues because this is a police investigation.

We are invited to concentrate on the women on their walk, their personalities (well developed for our understanding of them), bonding, clashes, getting lost, struggling in the dark, finding an abandoned hut (and the screenplay indicating a story of a serial killer in the bush 40 years earlier). While Jill, the leader, is a strong personality, the focus is on Alice, played by Anna Torv (reminding audiences that she can play dominating, tormented, sometimes self-doubting characters as in her award-winning performances in The Newsreader).

There is also the threat of plot with Alice, an informant to the Federal police, financial difficulties of her own, pressured to get information on the company, clashing with her close friend, Lauren, also on the trek, and their daughters both going to the same exclusive school. When Alice disappears, her friend spent a lot of time standing on the top of a fast waterfall, looking and hoping for her return.

But, keeping it all together is the investigation by Aaron Falk, Eric Bana once again an engaging screen presence, supported by a tough Jacqueline McKenzie as his partner. What enhances his presence is a stream of flashbacks to his boyhood, accompanying his enthusiastic bushwalking parents into the mountains, learning a great deal about bushcraft, the stars and directions, searching for his mother after an accident in the bush, standing in for good contribution as the search for Alice proceeds.

As with all good mysteries and investigations, there are some unanticipated twists in the plot – but the audience sporting a clue halfway through and wondering where it will lead, unexpectedly bringing the investigation to a satisfying conclusion.

By Fr Peter Malone MSC


Published: 23 February 2024




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Ann Rennie

Loved seeing Genazzano in all its glory as the setting for Endeavour Ladies' College!

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David. Rush

Love your comments and giving us clues on what to see

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