Attack is high on the merits of artificial intelligence but doesn’t set much store by humint. John Abraham plays a soldier who has three women in his life – his mother, his girlfriend, and a robotics expert. However, his most meaningful and fulfilling relationship is with the talking computer chip embedded in the base of his neck. This chip is called Ira, and she can do just about anything, including detecting the exact real-time location of a terrorist who has thus far evaded capture.
Lakshya Raj Anand’s film is based on a story by Abraham and a screenplay by Anand, Sumeet Batheja and Vishal Kapoor. The wide range of references include Robocop, Wolverine, Venom and every recent nation-in-peril thriller.
Arjun (Abraham) is paralysed neck down in a terrorist attack, in which his girlfriend Ayesha (Jacqueline Fernandez) dies. Arjun agrees to be the guinea pig of an AI programme created by Saba (Rakul Preet Singh) and championed by government official Subramaniam (Prakash Raj).
Transformed into a bionic soldier to the accompaniment of Sanskrit chants as though a new god has been born, Arjun recovers just in time for the latest crisis. The dreaded Pakistani terrorist Hamid Gul (Elhaam Ehsas) has managed to cruise into the Parliament building and take the prime minister hostage.
Home Minister Digvijay (Rajit Kapur), described as being “madly in love with the prime minister”, is obsessed with saving the dear leader. It’s left to the techies – the “super-soldier” Arjun, Subramaniam, Saba, and the omnipotent Ira – to save the day.
The 123-minute film deftly races through its fantastical premise but cannot avoid the niggling question: if artificial intelligence is so smart and superior to human will, why not disband the intelligence networks, law enforcement agencies and armed forces and simply let the machines take over?
Indeed, portions of Attack appear to have been churned out by a software programme rather than humans. The mean and muscular rhetoric, the depiction of the political class as effete, the advocacy of a techno-military solution to a hostage crisis – every element from your garden-variety terrorism drama is present, with Ira being the only distinguishing factor.
Lakshya Raj Anand scores in the slickly staged action sequences, ably executed by John Abraham. Paying more attention than he has in recent films, Abraham grimly wields the weapons and notches up the kills.
British actor Elhaam Ehsas’s Hamid Gul puts up a formidable fight against Arjun. The only other noteworthy cast member is Ira, who is to Attack what the genetically engineered raptor Blue was to Jurassic World – the female scene-stealer in an ultra-macho show. Indeed, Arjun could not have done it without Ira, on whom he depends as heavily for guidance as does an Uber driver on Google Maps.