In Afghanistan, French journalist Elsa and her colleague Amen are covering the story of Maina, a woman sold to a man when she was a child. Taliban leader Ahmed Zaief abducts Elsa and Amen and tries to force them to read a message to Western governments. The French president sends six Special Force to rescue Elsa who's hidden in a fortress in Pakistan. The team composed of Commander Kovax, Tic-Tac, Lucas, the sniper Elias, Victor and Marius release Elsa and Amen from their imprisonment but lose their radios. Now the group needs to cross the inhospitable land to save their lives with the Taliban chasing them. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Based on their respective beret colors and badges, Kovax, Lucas, Victor and Marius are all "Commandos Marine" of the French Navy, while Elias is most likely from the "No. 10 Air Parachute Commando" unit of the French Air Force and Tic-Tac is a Commando from the French Army's "1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment". France's Special Operations Command (COS) has direct operational command of all special operation units, and thus are able to select members from different branches based on mission needs. See more »
While the opening scene is set in Kosovo, the cars have French license plates. See more »
We're 22 kilometers from the pick-up. On top of the world's asshole.
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In the intro a French special forces team is in Kosovo to get a notorious war criminal. Unlike a US mission that would send maybe 1 chopper and 3 or 4 guys, the French send 5 or 6 choppers and countless guys. For some reason all these choppers don't seem to get noticed by the bad guys. Of course our team gets the guy no problem.
Next in Afghanistan, a French reporter interviews an Afghan girl. She's interviewed her before. The girl tells her the story of how she was sold into marriage. Her husband--the big bad local Taliban leader. I guess the Taliban discover that the girl is spilling her guts and when she leaves she's grabbed by dozens of Taliban. Our intrepid reporter decides she's going to rescue the girl with her two local helpers. Of course they immediately are grabbed as well and we meet the Taliban boss who wants her to to recite one of those confessions for the camera. She refuses and one of her helpers gets his throat slashed.
Back in Paris, the French government immediately launches a rescue mission--it's our team from the intro. The courageous French president of course doesn't think twice about agreeing to the risky mission to rescue a single reporter. When the team arrives in Pakistan where the captives are being held they witness the Taliban killing the Afghan girl. The team finds the reporter, Elsa, and her local assistant, Amen and rescue them. But the Taliban are on their tail. So they miss the rendezvous with the chopper and are on their own now with hordes of Taliban chasing them.
Several firefights and injuries ensue. The team leader decides they will walk to Pakistan!?! Crossing the Hindu Kush mountain range no less!?! Before the border they stop at a village. But soon the Taliban arrive. Amen decides to stay back because he knows the Taliban will wipe out the villagers. So Elsa also decides to help Amen and that forces the entire team to become "humanitarians" as the team leader complaints. Eventually they leave for the snowy mountains and everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Of course there will be a final confrontation with the Taliban leader.
Special Forces is a rather odd French action survival drama propaganda movie. Odd because the action is realistic and great, but then the story is so unbelievable and the heroics so forced and some of the behaviors so nonsensical. We learn very little about our team. At some point before the Afghan mission they are at a party and one of them is presented as a main character, but he's also one of the less likable guys. The team is a strange mishmash of people, most of which don't look the part. The more interesting character is that of the young sniper. Initially, he's got issues killing people it seems, but what choice does he have. I guess French snipers work in solitary not as a team, so he's always off by himself to flank the bad guys.
Now, is it fair to ask for realism from a propaganda film? And as far as I could tell from the end credits there was some French government involvement aside from the usual financing. The way this movie was filmed you almost expect them to tell you that it was inspired by real events. And the movie does go beyond just presenting Western heroics versus the evil guys. The Taliban leader does get to complain about Western imposition of democracy at gun point. He does seek consultation with some higher ups and he's made to appear like a loose cannon. Our team also avoids stating political opinions but leave that to the politicians. The movie portrays the Western armed forces' habit of witnessing horrors and not intervening. Then it does a nice job of showing the Afghan village tradition of giving hospitality to all who ask for it, whether friend or foe.
It's a bit surprising that this movie precedes the American war propaganda films and unlike these, it's not afraid to harm its characters. Overall, Special Forces has strong first and second acts. But these are short. The long final act/journey gets tedious.
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