What Is the Story About?
The story is a survival thriller mostly about Parvathy (Nayanthara), a single mother and her son Veera (Ritvik) who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis – a severe respiratory issue thereby making the child need an oxygen cylinder to survive. The duo travels from Coimbatore to Cochin for the latter’s operation and get stuck in a massive landslide alongside few other passengers with their own set of problems and conflicts. There’s a couple trying to elope and her problematic father, a corrupt police officer travelling with a bag of cocaine, an ex-MLA and an ex-prisoner as the duo’s co-passengers. Will the human conflicts be bigger than the natural hazard in itself? Will they survive? How many of them will survive and how?
Nayanthara is the driving force of the film. She gives a convincing performance as a desperate mother trying to save her child and her chemistry with Ritvik who plays Veera is one of the reasons that would force you to finish the film despite all the meddling issues in the writing. Jaffer Idukki is one good performer who shines in the very few scenes given to him. But, for most of the film he’s wasted. Aadukalam Murgadoss also does the best he can in some of the scenes. Barath Neelakantan is given the build-up of an antagonist, but instead of being terrifying he’s just annoying onscreen. Or rather his character is. The rest of the cast doesn’t have much to do while their lip-syncing issues blatantly puts you off.
Natural hazard/disaster based survival thrillers might not be new for Indian Cinema, but something about surviving a landslide seems to be rather fresh. Add to the mix we have a set of different individuals, each selfish for their own reason and carrying their own back-stories, their struggle for survival and rapport… is definitely interesting on paper. Well that’s the bane and boon of O2.
The writing spends too much time to introduce it’s characters (reminiscent of Engeyum Epothum), but unfortunately none of the characters appeal enough. Nayanthara’s screen presence pulls off some scenes really well. There is a scene in particular where she gives it back to the corrupt police officer. You’d wonder if the scene would appeal as much, if it were some other actor. She also shares an adorable chemistry with Ritvik.
The writing tries to fuse some good messaging about how man-made activities like deforestation lead to natural disasters and how nature has its ways of giving it’s wrath back. But, nothing translates well onscreen. All you see are jarring scenes and cliched dialogues. There is so much stress on the piosity of motherhood throughout the film via dialogues and scenes. Quite expectedly, they come out as nothing but overtly melodramatic.
The film definitely has few countable engaging moments. And those moments do not come from rescue operations per se unlike suvival thrillers of this nature. But from the conflicts that arise between the survivors and how each character unleashes an insensitive and demonic side to fuel their selfishness in the second act. Some psychedelic visuals follow (quite un-necessary) to spoon-feed audience about hallucination.
The film has a decent set of supporting actors but their characters, seldom show any depth. For example, Jaffer Idukki and Lena are clearly wasted in the film. Aadukalam Murgadoss gets a scene where he hits Barath Neelakantan for his annoying blabbery. This scene resonates audience reaction to how shallow written is his nearly negative character. Once the third act takes off, there’s no redemption to the film. There’s nothing interesting happening, the same set of happenings being recycled and stretched leading to a logic damning senseless climax.
In short, the premise has everything to hook the audience for straight two hours, but the writing follows a projectile motion downwards. Thereby making it a movie whose main antagonist is it’s lazy writing and execution.
Music and Other Departments?
Music probably is the most un-necessary element in a film that aims to be a survival thriller. O2 has two songs that neither obstructs the narrative nor helps it in any way. The background score on the other hand is very routine and doesn’t aid the film either (when it should have). The writing is very in-consistent, jarry and cliched in the first act and third act while is gripping in the second act. Editing is all over the place, while the film has convincing vfx for a natural disaster based film (considering the budget).