out of Five
Running time: 108
Poorly written and laughably over-directed, this is exactly the kind of gung ho nonsense the French usually accuse Hollywood of making.
What's it all about?
Directed by Stephane Rybojad, Special Forces stars Diane Kruger as French journalist Elsa Casanova, who gets kidnapped by Cambridge-educated Taliban chief Zaief (Raz Degan) while reporting from Afghanistan. With her televised execution imminent, the French government send in an elite Special Forces group that includes committed leader Kovax (Djimon Hounsou), his grumpy best friend Lucas (Denis Menochet), wise-cracking Tic-Tac (Benoit Magimel), inexperienced young Elias (Raphael Personnaz) and crack-shot Victor (Alain Figlarz).
The Special Forces duly live up to their reputation and liberate Elsa fairly quickly, but their communication equipment is completely destroyed in the ensuing shoot-out. With no radio and with Zaief and his minions hot on their trail, they're forced to make their escape over some extremely inhospitable terrain.
This is the sort of gung ho nonsense that normally goes straight to DVD in the US, despite the best efforts of whichever meat-headed no-mark ends up in the lead role. The strange thing is that this is exactly the sort of rubbish that the French routinely accuse Hollywood of churning out – so much so that it's tempting to see it as a Team America-style satire, but sadly, that's not the case.
It's difficult to see what the likes of Kruger, Hounsou and Magimel saw in the script, because the dialogue is atrocious and none of the actors are given anything interesting to do. Similarly, the action scenes are badly edited and basically consist of a lot of shooting and shouting.
The plot is equally stupid – halfway through, the film decides it doesn't want to be a war thriller anymore, it wants to be one of those uplifting 'long journey home' endurance dramas instead, like a terrible version of Peter Weir's recent The Way Back; but the characters are so thinly written that you don't care about any of them making it (just as Elsa's gruesome-looking frostbite doesn't seem to give her any trouble at all). On top of that, the film is hideously over-directed, with more swooping helicopter shots than you would have thought humanly possible – basically, if a long shot can't be done by zipping past in a helicopter, Rybojad isn't interested.
In short, there's nothing here of any merit whatsoever: the cast are wasted, the script is terrible, the action is poorly staged and the direction is laughably over the top. One to avoid.
Special Forces (Forces Speciales) (R15)