English theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stéphane Rybojad|
|Music by||Xavier Berthelot|
|Editing by||Erwan Pecher|
|Distributed by||Studio Canal|
|Running time||110 minutes|
|Budget||10,000,000 € (estimated)|
Forces spéciales (English: Special Forces) is a 2011 French war adventure film directed by Stéphane Rybojad and starring Diane Kruger, Djimon Hounsou, Benoît Magimel, Mehdi Nebbou, and Tchéky Karyo. Filmed on location in France, Djibouti, and Tajikistan, the film shows a group of elite French soldiers on a desperate hostage rescue mission in the Afghanistan/Pakistan area. Forces spéciales is mainly in French, with brief scenes in English and Persian.
The renowned journalist Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger) writes an article about warlord Zaief (Raz Degan) and names him "the butcher of Kabul". Later on, her informer Maina (Morjana Alaoui) warns her that Zaief is out for vengeance. Maina is usually completely covered by her burqa but during the last interview she unveils her face for Elsa's camera and discloses that she is one of Zaief's women since she was sold to him when she was twelve years old. Before she returns to Zaief, she bids farewell because she reckons to die by an honour killing. Elsa tries to hold her back but fails. Her friend Amen (Mehdi Nebbou) also urges Elsa to leave the country, yet, instead of saving herself, she tries to save Maina. Zaief ambushes her and her friend Amen. He has their driver killed and puts her with Amen into a dark cell. Amen asks Elsa to show no fear in front of Zaief. Still, she breaks down when their friend Salemani (Greg Fromentin) gets cruelly murdered in her presence.
Zaief accuses Elsa and other foreigners of coming uninvited to his country and of making his people crazy. He sends film material of Salemani's gruesome death to the West, where it eventually reaches the French government. A French special forces team gets entrusted with Elsa's rescue. They find Zaief's hideout in Pakistan. Although they realized that they are actually too few men to get the job done, they still go for it after they've noticed the execution of Maina. When they leave the place with Elsa and Amen, a bullet hits their wireless set. Without means to contact their base, they cannot manage to be found and picked up.
In lack of any other solution, they are heading for the Khyber Pass in order to reach their base in Afghanistan on foot. In the mountains, they have another shooting with Zaief's gunmen. Since they stand on higher grounds, the hand-picked commandos are able to withstand the attackers, who approach densely packed and have only old AK-47s. While Kovax fights with his men, Zaief hides and just kills his followers if they dare to question his orders.
When the fugitives come across a village, Elsa asks for hospitality. She and her attendants are heartily welcomed. As they learn, all children of this village have been taken away by a local warlord who was in demand of child soldiers. While they enjoy themselves with the locals, Marius (Alain Alivon) is suddenly killed by a sniper. The team's own marksman (Raphaël Personnaz) takes care of the shooter. Later on, Zaief's gunmen arrive, and Zaief himself kills Amen. The soldiers try to save the villagers, but this time their weaponry doesn't suffice. When Victor is hit, they retreat into the mountains.
Elias is the second of the team to be killed when he tries to escape from Zaief's soldiers. Victor, Kovax, Lucas, and Elsa soon run into a snowstorm, but Victor suffers with ague, and little later he dies, experiencing the fate of many unknown heroic soldiers who had an unseen painful death after their last battle.
Lucas (Denis Menochet) is now so dismayed that he doesn't see any sense in continuing. But Kovax knows that Lucas is about to become a father and telling him solves this issue. Yet Lucas is the next one who dies when Zaief and his men attack again. Kovax does kill Zaief but confronted by the death of his friend Lucas he has a breakdown.
Tic-Tac was also hit and has to be carried. They still have a long way ahead of themselves when they are surprised by a debris avalanche. Kovax can save Elsa and Tic-Tac but breaks a leg. The two men realize only Elsa can make it, provided she does it on her own. They persuade her to leave them behind. Kovax gives her a present he received at his last birthday, a compass that once saved French soldiers in Normandy.
Elsa, already obviously marked by severe exhaustion, scarcely reaches a road where she is found. Finally being rescued, she refuses to return to Paris and has herself taken out of her wheelchair by Admiral Guezennec (Tchéky Karyo) who carries her on his back to a helicopter. Together they find Kovax and Tic-Tac who have survived to see Elsa again.
- Diane Kruger as Elsa Casanova
- Djimon Hounsou as Kovax
- Denis Menochet as Lucas
- Benoît Magimel as Tic-Tac
- Raphaël Personnaz as Elias
- Alain Figlarz as Victor
- Alain Alivon as Marius
- Raz Degan as Zaief
- Mehdi Nebbou as Amen
- Morjana Alaoui as Maina
- Tchéky Karyo as Admiral Guezennec
- The opening song in the movie when the troops are seen flying in choppers is E=MC2 by Big Audio Dynamite.
- The song played at Kovax's birthday party is "Pick your God or Devil" by Robin Foster and Ndidi O.
While filming the action scenes, the actors were overseen and advised by French naval special forces according to the press folder available on the official site. Moreover one of their former chief instructors (Alain Alivon) played his own role.
Virgin Media wrote "With a strong cast featuring Diane Kruger and Djimon Hounsou, a powerful story and some sharp cinematography, this tense French action drama about the kidnapping of a journalist in Afghanistan is a nice change to your usual French cinema."
David Beckett (Film 365) appreciated the film as a "remarkably entertaining, engrossing and moving action thriller"
Cinevue's Amy Wadsworth attested "Forces spéciales" to develop towards its end into "an engaging survival story of devotion and solidarity".
Similarly themed movies:
- The Wild Geese
- La Légion saute sur Kolwezi
- Ashanti (1979 film)
- Let's Get Harry
- Tears of the Sun
- Act of Valor
- The Sea Wolves
- Beckett, David. "Special Forces (2011) Blu-ray". Film 365 (Darlington). Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- DuHamel, Brandon (2012-02-17). "StudioCanal (UK) release of Special Forces (Forces Speciales)". BlueRayDefinition.com. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
- Keslassy, Elsa; Hopewell, John (2010-05-13). "Diane Kruger ("Inglourious Basterds") will topline "Special Forces," a $12.6-million Afghanistan-set kidnap drama". Variety. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- ""Pick your God or Devil" in french film "Forces Spéciales"".
- Special Forces (2011) - Our review
- Beckett, David. "Special Forces is a remarkably entertaining, engrossing and moving action thriller". Film 365 (Darlington). Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- Wadsworth, Amy. "Despite its political context and action genre overtones, Special Forces develops into an engaging survival story of devotion and solidarity.". CineVue. Retrieved 2012-05-07.