It's Christmas Eve 1994. A flight from Algiers bound for Paris is hijacked and 227 passengers are taken hostage by a militant group of heavily armed Islamic terrorists. The authorities' only hope of saving the passengers is to enlist the GIGN, an elite special-forces unit. But it's a deadly mission of survival that will escalate into a violent confrontation that's both brutal and moving.
Based on a true story of a Christmas eve flight from Algiers to Paris, the French equivalent of a SWAT team, the GIGN, have to board a French passenger aircraft after it is hijacked by terrorists. Much like the heartbreaking United 93 the Assault is told in thrillingly tense real-time as the special police attempt to save the flight’s 200+ passengers.
This is not a story of tragedy however, but is in fact a masterfully worked thriller that grabs you within the first few minutes and holds you so tight you find yourself forgetting to breathe all the way through it’s runtime until you find your chest loosens and your let out a thankful breath of relief as the plane touches down.
What is most striking about the Assault however is not its knife edge tension but the brilliant character development. I honestly felt that the detail afforded to the mental and emotional battles undertaken by GIGN leader Thierry (Vincent Elbaz) and on the ground government secretary Carole (Mélanie Bernier) provide some of the movies highlights.
There are one or two places in which I felt that they could have done more with the piece, but I was impressed by the directors overall handling of the piece, it is so difficult in such situations to balance tension and realism without loosing control entirely and giving way to over-the-top ridiculousness. The Assault is a gripping thriller that provides a brilliant insight into the heroes, villains and those caught in between on this fateful Air France flight.