The Federal Police has a financial services firm squarely in its sights and has put the hard word on one of the latter’s employees to help bring it down.
That is the contention in Force of Nature: The Dry 2, with Detective Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) returning from The Dry (2020) to do much of the heavy lifting.
He and his partner, Detective Carmen Cooper (Jacqueline McKenzie) are squeezing Alice (Anna Torv).
She has deep insider knowledge on the workings of the company and has profited from its dirty dealings.
So, the authorities have Alice over a barrel.
The last piece of the puzzle is the dangerous task of downloading data, which Alice is reluctant to undertake for fear of being caught out.
But Detective Falk won’t take “no” for an answer.
The noose is tightened the day before Alice is due to go on a team bonding exercise deep in the Victorian bush.
She does so and that is when the whole case against the firm and specifically its boss Daniel Bailey (Richard Roxburgh) looks like unravelling.
That is because Alice goes missing.
With bad weather about to set in, a search, involving Victoria Police and Detectives Falk and Cooper, is launched.
The short get away also brings into focus four other women in the company, all of whom took the trip with Alice.
They struggle with her belligerent nature and have issues of their own.
You could hardly call them happy campers, as the group becomes lost.
Mobiles phones have been taken from them, as this is a commune with nature experience.
While Alice has managed to smuggle one in, it is of no help because there is hardly any reception.
The bush setting is also triggering for Detective Falk who knows the area well. It is where he and his parents came when he was a boy.
There is a lot of detail in the plotting in The Dry 2 – including a significant red herring – which requires concentration to follow.
Behind it is no shortage of pent-up anger, angst and emotion.
It is a thriller that unfolds in three time frames – the present, the immediate past and the distant past.
The writer and director is Robert Connolly, his work based on a novel by Jane Harper.
The setting and the cinematography thereof by Andrew Commis (Blueback) is magnificent – real picture postcard material.
The tension is raised by Peter Raeburn’s (who was responsible for music in The Dry) dramatic score.
Eric Bana puts in a solid showing as the film’s hero, Detective Falk, for whom this case is deeply personal.
Richard Roxburgh brings arrogance and entitlement to the head of the financial enterprise, Daniel Bailey.
Some of that rubs off on his wife Jill (Deborra-Lee Furness), with whom he has a prickly relationship.
Anna Torv has a no compromise approach to her realisation of Alice.
Robin McLeavy is troubled as Alice’s subjugated and poorly treated old school friend and colleague, Lauren.
Sisi Stinger revels in her bad girl persona as another employee, Beth, while Lucy Ansell plays her naïve, good-natured sister, Bree.
For all the positives, one must take a leap of faith to swallow a key component of the narrative.
It seems mighty implausible that a group of women without any form of communication to the outside world would simply be let loose in dense forest.
Further, some of the scenes look decidedly amateurish. They include the opening and when Alice appears to twist her ankle, to name but two.
Still, overall, I was invested in the journey, while admiring the location of the action.
Rated M, Force of Nature: The Dry 2 scores a 7 out of 10.