After more than a decade in conflicts in the Middle East since attacks of September 11th, we’ve seen some films try and tackle the stories of the soldiers involved in the ensuing conflicts. The one thing that we rarely see or hear about is the stories of soldiers from our Allies engaged in the Middle East. This film Special Force aka Forces spéciales as it was released first in France is a film showing us one of these stories. First and foremost it is a war action movie just like any of the ones that are made over here in the States but it is interesting and foreign to us since at times the French are shown to be not as adept in battle or at least that's how it looks from the United States perspective.
Special Forces is a story about a French Journalist, named Elsa(Diane Kruger) who is doing a story about girls being sold to the Taliban in Pakistan. Ahmed Zaief, the Taliban leader she has been focusing her reporting on decides to kidnap her and her friend Amen. The French government decides to send in a Special Forces team to go get her. Led by Kovax (Djimon Hounsou) this six man team of well trained soldiers complete the job of getting Elsa and Amen out of the camp but when their radios are lost they must traverse the rigorous terrain of Pakistan into Afghanistan to get extraction all while being perused by Zaief and his Taliban Forces.
The film is pretty strong as a war movie, the pacing and story good throughout. It’s a film that’s not out to re-invent the war movie genre so it never over reaches its goals during the run time. All of the acting in the film is solid throughout but the villain of the film Zaief is very one-dimensional and cartoonish. There could have been more done with his arc as they tried to show a bit toward the beginning by alluding to his past, but that is completely dropped as he soon becomes a bad guy from a Chuck Norris movie.
The action scenes are quickly edited with rock music scored behind them. While it’s interesting to watch they do very much feel like they are purposely made to invoke the feeling of current popular war video games in the west like Call of Duty or Modern Combat. You very much get to like all of the soldiers since the actors portray their characters very well. Diane Kruger does a great job of not being just an annoying person they need to save. She brings a nice heft to the performance.
It should be noted that the most of the film is subtitled in French. There is some English in the start of the film and some other languages spoken. The filmmakers of Special Forces were pretty successful in what they accomplished in this picture. They made a foreign action film that feels like a modern day Saving Private Ryan set in our current war climate. This is a film that is really worth checking out especially if the current glut of horror movies and family pictures is something you’re not into.