3.5 out of 5 (Very Good)
'Special Forces' - a French cinema with global ambitions
Satyen K. Bordoloi Sun, 16 Sep 2012
Film: "Special Forces; Cast: Diane Kruger, Djimon Hounsou, Benoit Magimel; Director: Stephane Rybojad; Rating: 3/5
Propaganda films come in many shapes and sizes and for many issues. Some, like the one about Prophet Mohammed that is causing global outrage right now, are in absolute bad taste and repulsive. Some, however, tow the line of decency and if they are aided by decent direction and execution, you don't mind it at all.
French film "Special Forces" is one such decent effort at black and white propaganda that is alleviated by good action.
After French War correspondent Elsa (Diane Kruger) is kidnapped and taken hostage by Taliban in Pakistan, the French government sends out a team of special forces to rescue her. They manage to do so, but are not able to exit as the Taliban attacks them. Forced to retreat and their radio out, they play a constant cat and mouse game with the enemy. As days pass, their chances of survival diminish.
The major flaw of the film is a one-sided and lopsided view of the Taliban conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Every Asian with a gun in the film is demonized, and the ones who are not demonized, are shown to be butchered by the demons. The ground reality and the politics are a little different than what we are shown in the film.
On the good side though, there is enough adrenalin pumped by well shot action sequences to keep the interest going. There is an extremely 'Ramboesque' element in the film that action junkies will take a shine to. Indeed, one can obliquely look at the film as "Rambo" meets "Saving Private Ryan".
On another level, it looks like an "Expendables" film. The only problem is that the expendables will not do this film because it requires them to die one after the other.
Where the film might hit a jarring note for action fans, is when from a tale of military rescue, it becomes a tale of survival against a wild, treacherous nature. The simple linear film moving from an action oriented one to an emotional roller-coaster is also a bit disconcerting.
The characterisation also leaves a lot to be desired. Better characterisation could have made the film much more appealing that it currently is.
However, this is French cinema doing a Hollywood action film. And the results are just fine enough for people to indeed believe in it and enjoy it.
Critic: Satyen K. Bordoloi
3.5 out of 5 (Very Good)