Writer/director Robert Connolly based his screenplay on the novel Force of Nature by Jane Harper (who also penned The Dry) and the only substantial connection to the first film is the return of Federal Agent Aaron Falk (Eric Bana). This is very effective as it makes the new work stand on its own as well as rewarding fans of the first.
Trading the parched open spaces of The Dry for the wet, dense and almost claustrophobic environment found deep in the Victorian mountains helps to redefine the story here. It revolves around a group of women who are on a company hiking retreat when things spiral dramatically out of control. There is also a back story that one of the female participants is a whistle-blower helping the Feds.
The new storyline is intertwined with scenes that put a focus on the events that made Falk the agent that he became and goes some way to explain his obsessive nature in this case. Connolly uses a slow burn approach and it puts the cast’s acting chops under the microscope as opposed to relying on action set pieces. Some might bemoan the lack of activity but that is misguided.
This is a human tale that builds suspense from subtlety and nuance. As the title suggests the power of Mother Nature is ever present and adds to the building of tension. Filing this under the “best-laid plans” as its original release date was postponed out of solidarity with those affected by the Writer Strike taking place in the US. Regardless of the delay, the finished results are more than worth the wait.