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O2 movie review: This survival thriller, starring Nayanthara, is a watchable fare despite its flaws

The movie manages to hold the attention of viewers till the end, thanks to interestingly-woven characters and gripping situations

  • Thinkal Menon

Last Updated: 12.01 PM, Jun 16, 2022

O2 movie review: This survival thriller, starring Nayanthara, is a watchable fare despite its flaws

A still from O2

Story: A Coimbatore-based botanist who is concerned about her son's breathing issues manages to arrange a surgery for him in Kochi. The bus in which the two travel to the neighbouring state meets with a horrific accident after a landslide occurs near Palakkad. The relatives of the passengers in the bus are left clueless after they fail to track the vehicle. As time passes, the little boy and others find it difficult to breathe inside the bus which is trapped under the rubble. Will they be able to escape from the dangerous situation?  

Review: How many of us have thought about a situation where we would be in dire need of oxygen? Not many would have anticipated the perils of oxygen shortage until we witnessed the horrific crisis during the second wave of COVID-19. Director GS Viknesh has tried to convey the importance of oxygen, and its connection with depletion of natural resources in O2.

The movie begins with Parvathy (Nayanthara), a botanist, seen discussing the need to conserve nature to safeguard human beings and other species on the planet with a few people of similar interest through video conferencing. She lives in Coimbatore with her little son Veera (Rithvik) who suffers from breathing issues.

Parvathy, who is worried about Veera, has pinned hopes on a surgery which is slated to happen in a hospital in Kochi. She boards a bus with her son from Coimbatore, and informs about the trip to her brother who is coordinating the operation with doctors in Kochi. After an hour into the journey, the bus gets stuck in traffic after which the driver decides to take another route.

But neither him nor the passengers expected that they would face a never-before-experienced horrific situation. The bus loses its control after a landslide occurs and gets trapped under debris. Parvathy is concerned about Veera after she realizes that severe oxygen shortage is likely to occur after a few hours. Can the passengers escape from the grave situation safely?

The biggest challenge while making a survival thriller is to hold the attention of the viewers till the end and come up with convincing sequences. Viknesh succeeds to a large extent in making O2 a gripping thriller despite its shortcomings. For such a story which unfolds in a confined space, two things that can impress the viewers are intriguing performances and edge-of-the-seat scenes.

The director ensures that he chose the right actors to pull off the racy screenplay convincingly. He comes up with interesting characterizations for every passenger, which makes it easy for viewers to relate to their problems. Despite the major issue the protagonist faces, there is a conflict between a father-daughter-lover, a helpless driver, a frightened politician and a cold-blooded cop who doesn't mind finishing off others to ensure his safety.  

The small sub-plots and conflicts between these characters are elevated through organically written sequences and complemented by stellar performances. The director's depiction of people becoming unapologetically selfish when their lives are in danger is thought-provoking and shocking, to say the least.

The manner in which nature unleashes its revenge on human beings for the latter's selfish acts is showcased without being preachy. The attempt to explore various facets of the human psyche, too, impresses. Tamizh A Azhagan's cinematography, N Satheesh Kumar's art direction, Selva RK's editing and AS Sudhesh Kumar's action choreography stand out in the movie.

Nayanthara as the concerned mother who is ready to sacrifice everything for her ailing son, is the prime attraction of O2. Her chemistry with Rithvik is appealing, and we feel for her when she becomes helpless. Bharath Neelakandan's performance as the antagonist is praise-worthy, while Murugadoss excels in emotional sequences. Jaffer and RNR Manohar make their presence felt. Rithvik steals the show in some of the scenes, thanks to his adorable expressions.

On the downside, the VFX portions in a few sequences appear below par, though the makers manage to pull it off in a lion's share of the movie. Though survival thrillers often have predictable climax, the way the filmmaker chose to end the movie could have been more creative. A "natural touch" is incorporated in a crucial moment towards the end to register the significance of respecting mother nature, but it appears unconvincing.  

Verdict: Survival thrillers aren't a tried-and-tested genre in Tamil cinema. Fans of the genre are likely to enjoy O2 if a few drawbacks can be overlooked.  

O2 is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.