Special Forces (Forces speciales) (R)

Action/Adventure 107 October 12, 2012
By Chris Packham
The Hans Gruber axiom states that an action film is only as good as its bad guy— dumb antagonist, dumb film; it's a useful mnemonic device, like "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey," but which Michael Bay keeps mixing up with "if it's brown, flush it down." In Israeli actor Raz Degan, Special Forces (Forces Spéciales) has a way better villain than most American action films. Taliban leader Ahmed Zaief, an otherwise stereotypical Islamic terrorist, is conflicted with religious zeal and Western tastes, a product of British schooling. Oh, he's an asshole, but for a while, Degan’s serious charisma also kind of makes Islamic extremist fundamentalism look cool and badass, which could have been hilariously subversive if director Stuart Beattie had pushed it a little farther. A French action film modeled on American-style military thrillers, the film's theme can basically be summarized as "Enrôler dans l'Armée de Terre!" The production obviously had the cooperation of the French military, judging by all the big hardware, including heavy cargo planes, the Charles de Gaulle supercarrier, a bunch of Renault Sherpas (French Humvees, basically) and many, many helicopters. When Zaief kidnaps journalist Elsa (Diane Kruger) and imprisons her in a desert stronghold, the French president orders a rescue mission led by Commander Kovax (Djimon Hounsou). A pitched battle escalates to a lost-platoon scenario after the team misses their airlift, and they have to cross the desert without support. But even though Zaief's the most interesting character in the film, Hans Gruber remains the Socratic ideal
Stéphane Rybojad Diane Kruger, Djimon Hounsou, Benoît Magimel, Denis Menochet, Raphaël Personnaz, Alain Figlarz, Alain Alivon, Mehdi Nebbou, Raz Degan, Tchéky Karyo Michael Cooper, Stéphane Rybojad Thierry Marro, Benoît Ponsaillé, Stéphane Rybojad Entertainment One


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