Research and Analysis Wing agents are dropping dead across the world, and India’s foreign intelligence agency is worried enough to recruit maverick Mumbai police officer Yashwardhan to stop the carnage.

Some of us will remember Yash (John Abraham) from the 2011 movie Force, in which he hunted down a drug dealer and paid the price through the death of his wife (Genelia D’Souza). The Assistant Commissioner of Police prefers to hit first and ask questions later (also known as business as usual in the Mumbai Police Force). Yash’s disregard for the rules seems to anticipate the reckless politics that followed the surgical strikes on terrorists across the line of control. The days of following protocol are over, Yash sneers. We now force our way into people’s homes and kill them.

RAW chief Ranjan Das (Narendra Jha) agrees to let Yash investigate the case because one of the dead agents was Yash’s old friend. (The decision might have also been influenced by the fact that Abraham has co-produced the movie.) This action thriller is deeply personal all the way. When Yash meets RAW operative KK, to whom he is supposed to report, his swagger takes a pause because KK (Sonakshi Sinha) is Karanjeet Kaur and hence a woman. The moment of truth creates some false tension between Yash and Karanjeet, and Karanjeet lives up to Yash’s contempt by refusing to follow the bread crumbs that rogue agent Shiv (Tahir Raj Bhasin) has scattered all over Budapest. It is in this fortunately picturesque city that Shiv is planning his next big move, but Yash will soon prove that the muscles in his arms have not snaked into his upper reaches. The man from Mumbai is onto Shiv faster than you can say “Jason Bourne hopping continents faster than you can say James Bond”.

‘Force 2’.

The idea of an unstoppable force meeting an eminently movable object would have worked better if a few simple rules had been followed. The 126-minute movie is supposed to pay homage to RAW’s efforts, but since the intelligence agency is always a few steps behind Yash¸ who in turn is a few steps behind Shiv, the tribute is misplaced. Force 2’s instance that the country should recognise the efforts of slain RAW officers also misunderstands the organisation’s mandate of stealth and secrecy.

Yet, Force 2 stumbles through because director Abhinay Deo does not repeat the mistakes committed by local versions of the Bond-Bourne and Mission: Impossible movies, including D-Day, Ek Tha Tiger and Baby. Except for an item number that is woven into the story, Yash and Karanjeet do not halt their hunt to pose amidst the Budapest countryside. Nor is there any chest-thumping moment aimed at making audiences feel guilty over consuming popcorn and cola while unnamed Indian spies die miserable deaths in non-vegetarian countries. Deo keeps his hand on the trigger throughout, leaping swiftly from one fight-and-chase sequence to the next and stopping the action only to give Yash yet another opportunity to prove that he can think as fast as he can move.

The free-running hops across terraces, motorcycle bound-assassins, and assassination threat involving an Indian politician will be familiar to Hollywood followers, while the contrivances and sentimental touches are comfortingly Indian. Abraham is not called upon to exercise his facial muscles, and he is efficient as the world-weary policeman who has forgotten to smile after his wife’s death. In an early sequence, he lifts an occupied car neat off the ground with a nail stuck in one massive arm. Fortunately, this is all the heavy lifting the limited actor is asked to do.

Sonakshi Sinha is less convincing as KK. Sinha has hacked away at her voluptuous body and domestic goddess image to refashion herself as an action heroine in Akira and now Force 2, but she is never convincing as a ground operative. Karanjeet’s lack of initiative and inability to decode clues hidden in plain sight make her a poor cousin of Taapasee Pannu’s resourceful secret agent in Baby.

Tahir Raj Bhasin has mastered the art of the smirk as shorthand for evil, and he has plenty of opportunities to do so in Force 2. Shiv is captured and driven to the airport by Yash and Karanjeet to be brought to justice in India. Nobody thinks to ask for back-up or, at the very least, a bullet-proof vehicle. This tribute to RAW is undercooked, but it manages to retain its crowd-pleasing flavour. The action is nasty and short, and before any “what just happened” questions can be asked, ACP Yash delivers yet another punch. It’s not quite India’s answer to the Mission: Impossible films, but at least on the thrills front, it’s halfway there.