Force 2 got off to a powerful start at the North American box office, especially considering its small theatrical footprint. From November 18-20, 2016, Force 2 earned $115,762 from 46 theaters ($2,517 average). Its theater count ranks 35th out of 46 Hindi films released here this year — tied with Mastizaade — yet it performed well enough to rank 27th in terms of opening weekend gross and 17th in opening weekend average. Here’s how star John Abraham’s other 2016 releases fared in their opening weekends in North America:
Dishoom: $435,497 from 111 theaters ($3,923 average)
The sequel to the super-fun action flick Force hits Chicago area theaters on November 18, 2016. John Abraham returns for Force 2, this time teaming up with Sonakshi Sinha against a villain played by Mardaani‘s Tahir Raj Bhasin.
The realism that made the relationships in 2008’s Rock On!! so compelling is missing from Rock On 2, replaced by bizarre behavior masquerading as drama.
Following the events of the original film, the surviving members of the rock band Magik (RIP, keyboardist Rob) had a good run for about three years, playing shows and running their own recording label. Then the suicide of an aspiring musician broke them up once again.
Fast-forward five years to the present day, and formerly destitute guitarist Joe (Arjun Rampal) is a wealthy club owner and reality show judge. Drummer KD (Purab Kohli) still dabbles in music, leaving him with enough free time to narrate the film. Singer Adi (Farhan Akhtar) is living near Shillong on a farmers’ collective, despite having no background in farming whatsoever.
There’s a real logical leap required for Adi’s choices to make the slightest bit of narrative sense, let alone make him a hero. His overblown reaction to the aspiring musician’s suicide is to flee to the hinterlands of India (Shillong is on the other side of Bangladesh), not only breaking up his band and depriving Joe and KD of their source of income, but also abandoning his wife, Sakshi (Prachi Desai), and their then three-year-old son.
Somehow, Adi’s version of penance for playing a minor role in a troubled young man’s death means punishing everyone who loves and depends on him. As Adi puts it: “Every time I’ve tried to make music, I’ve hurt someone.” Substitute any other activity for “make music” to hear how dumb and selfish that rationale sounds: “Every time I’ve tried to clean the bathroom, I’ve hurt someone.”
Adi’s commitment to his new farming community isn’t as solid as he thinks it is. Days after rejecting an in-person plea from KD, Sakshi, Joe, and Joe’s wife, Debbie (Shahana Goswami), to return to Delhi, a suspicious fire destroys the farmers’ crops and homes. Adi gives the farmers some cash and heads back to his old life, telling the farmers to call him if they have any problems.
More than a month goes by without Adi giving so much as a thought to his buds in Shillong, let alone check on them to make sure they’re okay. When his former right-hand man finally rings to say that everyone is starving, Adi yells, “Why didn’t you call me sooner?!” Probably because he was trying not to die, you entitled dope!
Adi’s solution to raise awareness of the farmers’ plight is, not surprisingly, to hold a Magik reunion benefit concert, including new band members Jiah (Shraddha Kapoor) and Uday (Shahshank Arora, whose role is too small for an actor of his caliber). Yet dumbass Adi has the bright idea to hold the concert in a field in Shillong, Woodstock-style.
Consider all the reasons why this is stupid. All of the infrastructure for the concert — stage, restroom facilities, equipment storage — has to be built from scratch, at great expense. All the people with the money to afford concert tickets — the farmers are all broke, remember — live far away, meaning they have to travel (at great expense) just to get to the show.
Joe owns a freaking music club! Just have the concert at his place and charge a couple hundred bucks a ticket! All that money that went into setting up the stupid concert and travel expenses could’ve gone directly to the farmers instead of enabling Adi to waste it on another vanity project to ease his troubled conscience.
Joe is the only rational character in the story, dutifully fulfilling his responsibilities, while refusing to be blamed for things that aren’t his fault. Yet he’s written as a kind of villain, just because he considers events in context and isn’t guided entirely by his emotions. Joe, you’re the real hero of Rock On 2.
P.S. Since this is a movie about a rock band, I should mention the music. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy did a great job writing songs in distinct styles for Jiah and for Magik. Shraddha Kapoor has a good voice, and her character gets the film’s best songs, including “Tere Mere Dil” and “Udja Re” (both embedded below). Magik’s numbers are okay, but I don’t think I can keep trying to convince myself that I like Farhan Akhtar’s singing voice.
Rock On 2, the sequel nobody wanted. During the weekend of November 11-13, 2016, Rock On 2 earned $80,139 from 95 North American theaters ($844 average). It’s one of only two Hindi films to release in more than 75 theaters here to earn less than $100,000 it is opening weekend (the other being the year’s biggest flop, Mirzya). Considering that, over the same weekend, theaters made more showing Finding Dory — which has been out for almost six months — expect Rock On 2 to lose the majority of its theaters on Friday.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil held up well for a third weekend, earning another $261,378 from 185 theaters ($1,413 average). Its North American total stands at $4,018,980.
Also in its third weekend of release, Shivaay added another $33,284 from 27 theaters ($1,233 average), bringing its total to $681,382. That’s well behind Dishoom‘s $803,195 total, meaning Shivaay will finish its run in 17th place for the year so far.