Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Special Forces

Imagine Saving Private Ryan relocated to Afghanistan and Pakistan and you have the gist of first-time feature filmmaker Stéphane Rybojad's actioner about the rescue of a French journalist marked for death by the Taliban.

Oct 12, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1365048-Special_Forces_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Kabul, Afghanistan: Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger) incurs the wrath of powerful, Cambridge-educated Taliban warlord Zaief (Raz Degan) by interviewing his wife, Maina (Morjana Alaoui), who was sold to Zaief's family at the age of 12 to pay off a debt of honor. He retaliates by ordering the kidnapping of Elsa and her local associate, Amin Takharoud (Mehdi Nebbou), who are spirited across the border to Pakistan's notoriously lawless tribal region and imprisoned in the basement of an isolated house.

What Zaief fails to anticipate is just how pissed off the French government is going to be when they find out: Pissed off enough to send a six-man special-forces team commanded by Kovax (Djimon Hounsou), a veteran of rushing in where angels fear to tread and actually coming back out, to get Elsa back. Kovax and his team—an archetypal mix of eager youngsters and grizzled cynics—locate and free Elsa and Amin in no time flat; that's the easy part of the mission. The hard part is reaching the rendezvous point from which they're supposed to be helicoptered out of the country, and the really hard part is switching to plan B when they fail to make it there in time, mostly because there is no plan B.

Though as predictable and formulaic as any American genre picture—if you can't spot the characters who don't have a snowball's chance in hell of surviving, you don't get out to the movies much—Special Forces does have its pleasures, especially if you have a thing for military aircraft: The film's sundry planes and helicopters are shot so lovingly, it verges on the creepy. The largely French cast, which includes such familiar faces as Tcheky Karyo, Benoît Magimel, Raphaël Personnaz, Denis Ménochet and Didier Flamand, is exemplary, and Diane Kruger looks stunning under duress, which is diverting if not entirely convincing. But the film's U.S. commercial prospects are dim, given the widespread American aversion to subtitles, and its formulaic charms are unlikely to impress the art-house crowd.


Film Review: Special Forces

Imagine Saving Private Ryan relocated to Afghanistan and Pakistan and you have the gist of first-time feature filmmaker Stéphane Rybojad's actioner about the rescue of a French journalist marked for death by the Taliban.

Oct 12, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1365048-Special_Forces_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Kabul, Afghanistan: Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger) incurs the wrath of powerful, Cambridge-educated Taliban warlord Zaief (Raz Degan) by interviewing his wife, Maina (Morjana Alaoui), who was sold to Zaief's family at the age of 12 to pay off a debt of honor. He retaliates by ordering the kidnapping of Elsa and her local associate, Amin Takharoud (Mehdi Nebbou), who are spirited across the border to Pakistan's notoriously lawless tribal region and imprisoned in the basement of an isolated house.

What Zaief fails to anticipate is just how pissed off the French government is going to be when they find out: Pissed off enough to send a six-man special-forces team commanded by Kovax (Djimon Hounsou), a veteran of rushing in where angels fear to tread and actually coming back out, to get Elsa back. Kovax and his team—an archetypal mix of eager youngsters and grizzled cynics—locate and free Elsa and Amin in no time flat; that's the easy part of the mission. The hard part is reaching the rendezvous point from which they're supposed to be helicoptered out of the country, and the really hard part is switching to plan B when they fail to make it there in time, mostly because there is no plan B.

Though as predictable and formulaic as any American genre picture—if you can't spot the characters who don't have a snowball's chance in hell of surviving, you don't get out to the movies much—Special Forces does have its pleasures, especially if you have a thing for military aircraft: The film's sundry planes and helicopters are shot so lovingly, it verges on the creepy. The largely French cast, which includes such familiar faces as Tcheky Karyo, Benoît Magimel, Raphaël Personnaz, Denis Ménochet and Didier Flamand, is exemplary, and Diane Kruger looks stunning under duress, which is diverting if not entirely convincing. But the film's U.S. commercial prospects are dim, given the widespread American aversion to subtitles, and its formulaic charms are unlikely to impress the art-house crowd.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Red Army
Film Review: Red Army

Non-hockey fans need not worry: This doc about Russia’s famed late-20th-century ice hockey team isn’t just for the converted. But filmgoers who don’t care a fig about Cold War-era tensions, culture clashes and the USSR’s erosion into the new Perestroika-embracing Russia can retire to the locker room, because these dynamics play big roles. More »

TheHumbling review
Film Review: The Humbling

Al Pacino’s superb performance as an aging, psychologically unraveling actor cannot save this pretentious and flat-footed film. More »

Mommy
Film Review: Mommy

Mom-obsessed Xavier Dolan triumphs with this startlingly original, compellingly watchable character study that is simultaneously hilarious, appalling and sad. More »

Manny
Film Review: Manny

Engaging look at legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao is best for hardcore fight fans. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Wedding Ringer
Film Review: The Wedding Ringer

Intermittently amusing bro-comedy trifle that confirms Kevin Hart's talent, though not his taste in material. More »

Paddington
Film Review: Paddington

This feel-good, looks-great first-time big-screen adaptation of the beloved British children's stories about a stowaway Peruvian bear finding his, er, bearings in London is much more than just, oops, bearable. The handsome production greatly benefits from a top-notch cast of some of the U.K.’s finest actors and its beautiful blend of CGI-enriched live action and animated ursine star. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here