Amidst the savage battlegrounds, Afghanistan war correspondent Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger, Unknown) is willing to risk everything to get her story, even her life. Taken hostage by the feared Taliban she faces imminent execution. As the news reaches government officials an elite commando force is despatched. But when all their radio equipment is destroyed during conflict, Elsa and her rescuers find themselves stranded. Relentlessly pursued by enemy soldiers, their only hope of escape is to trek across a hostile, unforgiving mountain terrain in a deadly quest for survival.
Very much a movie in two halves Special Forces is a French action movie made by first time feature writer director Stéphane Rybojad, known for making in depth documentaries about the French armed forces. Sticking with what he knows Special Forces is the story of a team of elite soldiers sent to rescue kidnapped journalist, Elsa (Diane Kruger) from Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
Beginning with a tense more Hollywood style set up, the film does a good job of creating characters and relationships with a reasonable amount of depth, but relies heavily on the showy tropes and stereotypes of it’s genre including explosions, weaponry and violence. The second half of the movie however seems to lose it’s grip on this aspect of the story and the solders, only recently portrayed as an unstoppable team, highly trained to move as one deadly efficient group, are relegated to cannon fodder; their weapons and training seemingly useless against the hordes of evil doers and terrorists that stand between them and Elsa’s freedom.
Action fans are likely to pale at this second half of the movie, as it lacks the sharp and relentless drama that such movies thrive upon; whilst the second half takes a more somber and almost new broadcast feel to it; focusing on the barren landscape and unfamiliar terrain rather than the typically battled villains of terrorism.
For a card carrying anti-action film goer I have to admit that a vast amount of this film was lost on me, the characters, though reasonably intriguing, were not enough to fully catch my attention in the first half whilst the distant realism of the second half was somewhat alienating. Fans of the genre are likely to be very taken by the first half, and strongly put off by the apparent tactical and artillery discrepancies in the second. Whilst those looking for a documentary that gives a genuine insight into the world of the French special forces will feel as though they are watching a biased propaganda piece instead.