6.4/10
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13 user 16 critic

Secret défense (2008)

In France, terrorist groups and intelligence agencies battle in a merciless war everyday, in the name of radically opposed ideologies. Yet, terrorist and secret agents lead almost the same ... See full summary »

Director:

Philippe Haïm

Writers:

Natalie Carter (participation) (as Nathalie Carter), Philippe Haïm (idea) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gérard Lanvin ... Alex
Vahina Giocante ... Diane / Lisa
Nicolas Duvauchelle ... Pierre
Mehdi Nebbou ... Ahmed
Rachida Brakni ... Leïla / Chadia
Simon Abkarian ... Al Barad
Aurélien Wiik ... Jérémy
Katia Lewkowicz Katia Lewkowicz ... Aline
Kamel Belghazi Kamel Belghazi ... Aziz
Djemel Barek Djemel Barek ... Khaled
Carim Messalti Carim Messalti ... Hajj
Hassam Ghancy ... Danar
Nicolas Marié Nicolas Marié ... Fouche
Salem Kali ... Salem
Moussa Maaskri ... Slim
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Storyline

In France, terrorist groups and intelligence agencies battle in a merciless war everyday, in the name of radically opposed ideologies. Yet, terrorist and secret agents lead almost the same lives. Condemned to secrecy, these masters of manipulation follow the same methods. Alex and Al Barad are two of them. The former is the head of the D.G.S.E.'s (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, the French equivalent of the CIA or the MI6) counter-terrorism unit while the latter reigns over a terrorist network, and both fight using the most ruthless of weapons: human beings. Secret Défense (aka Secrets Of State) tells of their secret war through the destinies of Diane, a student recruited by the French secret service, and Pierre, a troubled young man who thinks terrorism will bring him salvation. Trained and indoctrinated for missions which are beyond them, they are both drawn into a chain of events from which they seem incapable of escaping. While they both be sacrificed in the name of ... Written by Happy_Evil_Dude

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

UGC Distribution [France]

Country:

France

Language:

French | Arabic

Release Date:

10 December 2008 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Secrets of State See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

€11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

€1,038,041 (France), 14 December 2008, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Philippe Haïm's intention with the film was to show the manipulation of "human assets" and the psychological trauma they are thus subjected to. See more »

Goofs

DGSE headquarters are shown in La Défense (west of Paris) whereas the real headquarters of the DGSE is in the eastern part of Paris See more »

Connections

Featured in En bonne intelligence (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Space Weaver
Performed by Lisa Gerrard
Composed by Lisa Gerrard and 'Michael Edwards (XIX)'
Published by Sony ATV Music Publishing Australia
See more »

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User Reviews

 
French attempt at a Hollywood blockbuster...
20 July 2009 | by SiamoisSee all my reviews

Secret défense is an interesting movie in that it combines the style of French thrillers with Hollywood mainstream elements. Even during the opening credits, the movie smacks of Tony Scott, right down to the music, which reminds of "Enemy of the State".

I have not seen previous movies from director Philippe Haïm but I sensed he could never firmly put his print on this espionage thriller despite having the best of intentions. The story is cliché but interesting enough despite quite weak dialogs, the pace is appropriate so we get to know all the characters and the tension builds slowly as the "pieces" move in this chess game of terror.

Unfortunately, there's just something missing to make us care about any of these people. Perhaps this movie could have felt more fresh had it come out in 2002 or 2003 but by now it all feels rehashed.

What saves the movie from being sub par is the avoidance of over-the-top action sequences. The movie instead focuses on the cold, calculating work done by both national security agents and terrorists alike. Both sides thrive not due to super-heroic powers (think James Bond here) but rather by a total disregard for human life. The movers and shakers on both sides manipulate their gullible and vulnerable assets into doing their dirty work. Bonus points for the gritty tone which at times might not have been possible in a Hollywood movie.

Food for thoughts: Secret Defense cost 11 million Euros. Considering a movie like "Spy Game" cost 92 million US dollars, it makes you consider Europeans still know how to get a bigger bang for the buck.

Not the most spectacular entry in the genre but worthwhile. This is not classic French cinema. This is not a Hollywood blockbuster. But if you can appreciate an unambitious and entertaining movie somewhere between the two, this might be for you.


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