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One of the Best and Most Underrated Action Movies I Have Recently Seen
claudio_carvalho14 July 2012
In Afghanistan, the French journalist Elsa (Diane Kruger) and her colleague Amen (Mehdi Nebbou) are covering the story of Maina (Morjana Alaoui), a woman that was sold to a man when she was a child. The Taliban leader Ahmed Zaief (Raz Degan) abducts Elsa and Amen and tries to force her to read a message to the Western governments.

The Frech president sends six Special Force men to rescue Elsa that his hidden in a fortress in Pakistan. The team composed by Commander Kovax (Djimon Hounsou), Tic-Tac (Benoît Magimel), Lucas (Denis Ménochet), the sniper Elias (Raphaël Personnaz), Victor (Alain Figlarz) and Marius (Alain Alivon) release Elsa and Amen from their imprisonment but they lose their radios. Now the group needs to cross the inhospitable land to save their lives with the Taliban chasing them.

"Forces Spéciales" is one of the best and most underrated action movies I have recently seen. The talented Diane Kruger is one of the most (if not the most) beautiful contemporary actresses and has an awesome performance in the role of a French journalist kidnapped by the Taliban.

The action scenes are excellent, with great choreography and it is funny to read reviews telling that they are unrealistic as if it was a documentary and not an action film. The film is engaging from the beginning to the last scene in the end of the credits and like in most European films, the cast speaks more than one language. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Forças Especiais" ("Special Forces")
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A Nutshell Review: Special Forces
DICK STEEL9 December 2011
Co-written and directed by Stephane Rybojad, this debut feature is impressive and remarkable considering the sheer logistics involved in having it filmed in Tajikistan passing off as Afghanistan and its tribal borders where the film was primarily set. Rybojad cut his teeth with countless of documentaries, some of which involved the French special forces, so to say that he brings a degree of realism to the film is an understatement, having first hand knowledge about the weapons and tactics, despite having to weave a fictional tale around it that will appeal to a broad audience.

With a host of rifle weaponry, high-tech equipment and decked to the nines by smaller arms to larger ones like the Super Puma choppers (amongst others) and boasting even an aircraft carrier, some may be quick to claim that the film is nothing but propaganda for the French armed forces. But that can be so far from the truth, because what Rybojad had done is to provide a tale about humanity both good and evil, and the dilemma that anyone entrusted with a life and death situation to deal with almost on a constant basis. With just gun battles alone one may be better off with a computer game, but the story here, no matter how standard and cliché at times it may seem, worked without attempting to do more than it's capable of, knowing its limits and sticking very much to its strengths, despite having its final act a little bit clunky and a pivotal scene that turned out to be quite unbelievable in terms of geography, but with narrative films there's always the element of chance and coincidence otherwise nothing would actually happen.

While it's not everyday that we get to see a French action film, and one based on a uniformed group at that (the last being the GIGN in the film The Assault, which is based on a factual, historical incident), and this one in some ways reminded me of the Hollywood film Tears of the Sun by Antoine Fuqua. Both films feature a group of special forces troopers being tasked with an extraction mission, only to come face to face with a numerically superior opposition, having to battle the enemy while protecting their mark, and having the latter female and strong willed and at times at loggerheads with the mission objective, influencing how the troopers will function as a unit and having to constantly review whether they should just follow orders, or go about on a wider humanitarian mission that doesn't betray the conscience.

There's no Bruce Willis here, but Djimon Hounsou takes the charge as the leader of a group of six men in total tasked with a reconnaissance mission at first to uncover the whereabouts of the kidnapped journalist Elsa (Diane Kruger), before having their mission immediately turned to one of extraction. It may seem like an open and shut, routine mission with highly skilled, trained and equipped men balancing the odds of being numerically disadvantage, if not for Michael Cooper and Stephane Rybojad's story throwing a spanner in the works by taking out all their communications equipment very early on, rendering a change in their LZ impossible, and being left to their own devices to escape from Elsa's Taliban captors who are fast closing in on them. The structure here may seem similar to Tears, but it doesn't come with any requisite twists and turns. In fact the enemy may well be the harsh terrain and sub zero temperatures the group has to battle against, and for those pampered by things blowing up in the first half of the film, this portion on may seem like an anti-climax, especially when the story seemed to lose its tight grip on the plot, and made concessions to allow for closure.

The introduction was what set the stage with a glimpse of how tight the Special Forces work, flying in with their choppers on a mission to capture a war criminal, and a number of set action pieces to whet the appetites of the action junkie from the actual rescue of Elsa and the protection of tribal villagers who had shown them hospitality. But ultimately the story never allows you to forget about each of the characters, giving each some very strong identifiers that you'll feel for them especially since Cooper and Rybojad shows no mercy if any were to slip up and be complacent, never in their intention to build supermen or a super team, even if early skirmishes may seem to suggest something like that. It is this avoidance of caricatures that makes you feel for the safety of everyone each time a shot rings out, and as weapons and ammunition become light, fuses a real sense of danger and fear. The villains however are plainly one-dimensional, even for the chief terrorist Zaief (Raz Degan), who has no lack of scenes to show why he's pure evil and is one to be gotten rid of.

Still, Special Forces ranks up there with the many films from around the world about specially trained men and women in uniform being called upon to put their lives at the forefront in the protection and well being of others, and you can either view this as a purely action flick, or a tribute to the spirit of the such groups, with a stark comment as explained by a character, that it's better to go in a blaze of glory, than to live a life of anonymity.
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Decent action movie that loses itself halfway through
D-Sligar25 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, overall this was a pretty decent action film and all looked well up to half-way through the film. It was at this point the writer MUST have forgotten he had elite men in the special forces as the main characters. Why do I say this?

*** SPOILERS *** How is it that almost the entire team gets wiped out by the end and the waifish reporter is the only one that initially makes it out? The film will boggle your senses as you see the "elite" making some major boneheaded decisions that end up in them getting seriously injured or killed. Secondly, how is it that out of the entire team NONE of them carried any type of mass-injury inflicting devices; i.e., grenades and claymores (okay, they had at least one... but JUST one)??? You can clearly see the grenade launchers attached to their weapons, but not once do you see them use it.

Finally, the thing that really kills the movie is the entire lack of credibility given the shear numbers of "taliban-types" involved in the movie. You'd think they were like cockroaches hiding under every stone, nook and cranny... not to mention they never seem to die. When they initially go in to rescue the reporter, the team killed practically ALL of the taliban in the small hideout, then the leader shows up with maybe 10-12 more. The team ends up dropping at least half that number but the taliban keep increasing in numbers as if they're spawning in a freakin video game!!!

Then, when the choppers come in for extraction, do they have ANY type of air support at all? Nope, and a easily shoulder-launched rocket takes one out before they're even in the zone. Does the commander; er, admiral, send in another, better prepared extraction package? Nope, pretty much just leaves them s.o.l. Total b.s. and the lack of skill shown by the special forces team made it even worse. Not to mention the cost of lives just to save one reporter from a tenacious antagonist that proceeds with one-track terminator-like intent... not even worth it!


I kept wanting to just shut off the film after seeing all this b.s. just keep popping up, yet forced myself to finish the movie just to see if things ever got better. Nope, never did... suck waste of time. The film shots were nice, but there was hardly any dialogue total lack of character development. Watch only if there's nothing else on and you need an action movie fix (though, suspend rational thought when you do so). Not terrible, but not good either.
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A pleasant surprise
jerome-stampe9 November 2012
While 'Forces Spéciales' has some shortcomings, I have to say I enjoyed watching it. Sure the team doesn't always look up to the task, a few actors may not be too convincing either (although most are) and one may wonder about the tactics used in the film.

What I liked about this movie was that the crew and cast went to Tajikistan to shoot the Afghanistan and Pakistan scenes which makes the whole story more realistic – American productions would usually settle for Morocco or Jordania but the scenery is not quite the same. Another quality in 'Forces Spéciales' is the storyline which is kept simple, there is not subplot or complicated background: A French reporter is kidnapped by the Talibans, a team of team of soldiers is sent to rescue her. Also, languages have not been unified into English, something Hollywood still has problems with regularly.

'Forces Spéciales' might not be the best action movie ever (I am not sure this is what it's supposed to be anyways) but it has nothing to be ashamed of in comparison to 'Act of Valor' which was a big disappointment for me.
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Much better than I expected
jm-205-1217315 November 2011
Starts as the expected showy advertising for French armed forces (I love the genre but I understand it may not be everybody's cup of tea), then masquerades as some attempt at a lame military action storyline... And then before you know it you find yourself emotionally pulled into a story that provides its share of insights into the contemporary meaning of being a professional soldier. Obviously heavy support from the French armed forces to the production enables the attention to detail that provides credible full immersion into the environment through many vignettes. Stunning landscapes make that even better. Sure, a couple of tactical choices and implausible coincidences pivotal to the story look like concessions to the necessities of a Hollywood movie scenario... But I'll gladly forgive that - and the use of music too : the temptations of becoming a documentary or a caricature have been resisted after all, and what's left is an engaging survival story that will catch an audience far wider than the military niche.
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standard combat film
dmuel26 December 2011
Forces Speciales tells the story of the French Special Forces and their mission, in this instance, to save journalists who have been kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan and taken to the tribal areas of Pakistan. The covert operation develops complications and the sole lure of the movie is to discover whether the mission will succeed or fail; will they live or die.

As one reviewer notes, the movie is nearly a commercial for the French Special Forces, and the plot of the movie, what there is of it, involves a kill-crazed Al Qaeda leader and his nameless and near-faceless band of zombie-like henchmen who relentlessly pursue their victims. Whoever gets in the way of this insane band of thugs, Afghan, Pakistan, foreign soldier or whatever, they seem to crave killing them quickly. And, the supply of these killers seems limitless, offering the viewer ample opportunities to watch them machine-gunned down in large numbers by the heroes, including a few scenes that include an accompanying heavy-metal music soundtrack.

Yes we see the heroism, self-sacrifice and compassion of the gallant French warriors, along with the typical scenes of male-bonding. But much of this movie is standard fair for the genre, and a very one-dimensional look at the problems of this troubled area of the world. If you think that suits your taste, go for it! One last comment, when will we stop seeing overweight, gray-haired men portraying elite commandos? This is a young man's occupation. I'm surprised we didn't see Jean Reno as the commando leader, but that would have been even more difficult to believe.
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Now you know what special forces do!
phd_travel25 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
If you don't mind watching the subtitles because much of the dialog is in French, then this is a well acted and surprisingly grandly produced action thriller. 6 Special Forces soldiers are sent to rescue a journalist (Diane Kruger who does a good convincing job) who has been kidnapped by the Taliban. The action takes place in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The action is quite well directed and scary with a good on location feel spanning from caves and villages to desert and snow capped mountains. They seem to have to face every kind of trouble.

It's a bit sad so many had to die for one person and that part is a bit irritating. There are some unrealistic action movie clichés to the story. At least there is a feel good ending to compensate.
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Great Movie!
dustyn-barlow29 April 2015
Wow wow wow where to begin... I started this movie with the expectation that it was going to be just a campy B-Movie, with some cool action scenes and cheesy one liners (with a generic name like "Special Forces"). Little did I know I sat through 2 hours of the best choreographed, best acted, and most heart wrenching tale, I have seen in a long time. It is pretty much the French version of Sole Survivor. Djimon Hounsou strikes again as one of the best actors I have ever seen, I consider my self a "tough guy", but his emotional moments had me fighting back the tears. Another favorite character of mine was Raphaël Personnazs' character of the Rookie Elias. He was that guy we all want to be when we think of a hero. He always acts without regard to himself to save lives, and is torn apart seeing Innocent people killed, but the movie does a good job of showing that war is a terrible thing. Lastly as being someone whom served in Afghanistan, I can say the military choreography was spot on. The actors did an excellent job of of reenacting combat. This is a must see and I already ordered the Blue Ray off Amazon, because this is a must watch, and I want it in my movie library. 5 out of 5
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Good action movie, not so good survival drama.
TdSmth519 March 2016
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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Worth a look but not brilliant or original or quite believable
secondtake6 February 2014
Special Forces (2011)

The main reason to see this movie is to get a look at a French parallel to American war movies set in Afghanistan. There are clear similarities, and even some borrowed clichés (assuming the American movies created the clichés—mostly from earlier war movies). And there are some interesting differences, like the way the characters are developed and their slightly different sense of camaraderie.

The bulk of this movie is similar to many adventure films. A group of "good guys" is trying to escape from forces of evil that want to kill them. This is on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the "bad guys" are some extremist Taliban (if that's not redundant). The main bad guy conveniently speaks perfect Oxbridge English (not French) and is thoughtful and thoughtless at once.

All of this seems like good stuff, and it is somehow interesting for its uniqueness coming out of French movie-making and French national pride. Don't expect any soul searching here, or actual revelations about character or even about the cause of war. The good and evil aspects are simply given, and then shown in the usual way. What sustains the movie through all this is that it's very well done, and the acting (and therefore the characters) are quite believable. There is true heroism and suffering. And a taut suspense in many scenes.

It's too long by far, however, and there is a huge chuck of the movie where the group, with its shrinking numbers, struggles through the mountains that seem to become impossibly snowy and alpine. It isn't clear why the French military gives up trying to save them after dropping them in enemy territory. The Americans, who would have been there more or less de facto, are not mentioned or hinted at (which I don't mind, but it's not quite realistic as the crisis gets worse).

There's even an improbable moment, after days of absolute struggle through some high snowy terrain, that the bad guys show up as if they took a taxi. Maybe they did. But it's all so convenient and packaged.

So, take it for what it is. Well done, solid in some ways, and wobbly in its larger arc.
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Not bad - not brilliant but OK
daggersineyes8 March 2016
I'm not a big fan of war flicks or movies about military but I can be drawn in if it's well written and suspenseful enough. One of my favourite TV shows was The Unit. I was worried this would be rubbish tho because so many in this genre are but it was actually pretty good. Sure there are some problems with believability but I don't expect movies to be "real" - only real enough to make it work. In fact I often find "realistic" movies boring as bat guano and wonder why they didn't just call it a documentary & be done with it. Anyway, back to the point. I think this is worth renting as long as you don't have too high expectations. It's fun, action packed, has it's drama and pathos, gives some great insight into the politics & life in that region and is sympathetic & intelligent in it's treatment of local people struggling under the rule of the Taliban. The main actors are mostly good, I particularly like the dude who is in charge of the rescue team. Good acting from him and Diane Kruger. Diane was so good she actually made me seriously dislike her character in the first half of the movie. I just thought the woman was a complete idiot who caused the death of a bunch of people unnecessarily. By the end of the movie tho I felt more kindly towards her. SO the point of this rambling review is, don't worry about the negative reviews. The movie has enough action, authenticity and good production/cinematography to get it past the down sides such as ridiculous behaviour of the "elite" forces & cheesy dialogue. LOVED the last scene (After the titles) so make sure you stick around for it.

Have fun and don't take stuff too seriously ;)
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French Action Film, almost good enough
SnoopyStyle15 September 2013
In Afghanistan, French journalist Elsa (Diane Kruger) want to cover the story of Maina, a woman sold to a man when she was a child. Taliban leader Ahmed Zaief abducts Elsa and her colleague Amen. The French president sends six Special Force members to rescue Elsa who's been transferred to Pakistan. The team is led by Commander Kovax (Djimon Hounsou). They were able to free the journalists, but lose their radio. Without any backup, they must walk all the way back to Afghanistan.

Stéphane Rybojad writes and directs this french action film. It is good enough as a Rambo action movie, but there is too many things that felt wrong if this was to be realistic. There isn't much imagination in this movie. The action is done without much style. And the basic premise that the group had one radio is questionable. Apparently they did this without air support or even drones. Once they lose their one radio, they are lost to the allies. Is it out of the realm of possibilities? I guess not. It just doesn't feel right.
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Glad I didn't take any notice of the bad reviews.
mcleanmuir25 August 2018
This is a very good film. A pulsating action film from start to finish. If you liked Lone Survivor you will like this.
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Not that good
lantis-esquin24 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Only minor spoilers...

I watched this movie because it was made by French and really hoped for some realistic "non-Luc Besson" action. I believed this movie would really show us how special forces work. And as for the first part of the movie (the rescue action) I really felt like I was there. It was all made believable and I was hungry to watch more. Unfortunately it soon took an ugly turn and the whole movie turned into some kind of a road movie without an interesting plot.

I took the first hint when our special forces are pursued by some 10 to 15 Taliban fighters. SF lie behind a rock and wait for them to come closer until they open fire. But guess what. They don't fire from behind the cover. Instead they choose to stand up (or kneel, whatever) and expose themselves to enemy fire. Of course none of them gets hurt but hey, isn't it better for your aim to lie down? And isn't int better for your safety to shoot from a cover?

The movie went on in this fashion and I soon realized what it means to be in special forces. It means to shoot the enemy (who is doing nothing but running towards you as if their guns only worked at 20 meters distance), you must always stand to provide a better target (preferably in an open area) and never rely on modern technology to get you out of enemy territory.

There was a bright side to this one as well. They did not use English as the first language in the movie (as they usually do). French was used, sometimes the native tongue and sometimes English. Special effects were also good but the special forces were definitely not...
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Special Forces doing their thing!
dereklambe8 June 2019
Action-packed story of French special forces rescuing a journalist in Afghanistan. Some amazing cinematography and great action. Very interesting to see the French military for once rather than the usual US troops, and it is all very realistically done.
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It's not the story
kosmasp30 April 2012
I couldn't be bothered to look if this is based on a true story. Nor will I compare this to heroism as seen in American movies of similar genre fair. But I can tell you that with all it's faults and flaws (and there are quite a few), this still manages to grip you, if you have a good surround sound system and a neat television set. Of course that shouldn't be the argument to rate a movie (Bruckheimer would be happy though), but the action is well choreographed, you always know where you are and the actors are not too bad either.

Having said that, I do understand if you feel like you've been cheated when you watch the movie. But don't start asking yourself, why this, why that, it'll spoil your movie experience. And after all, this is just a movie, so don't start comparing it to the real thing! If you do, it'll fail on a major scale!
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The CO Should Be Fired
georget-115 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
First, while I really like this genre as well as many gritty French policiers movies, Special Forces was a big disappointment. The "elite" team sent in to rescue the journalist was no more competent than a band of Eagle Scouts would have been in that situation. The team parachutes into Pakistan during broad daylight and gently floats to earth interminably circling one another like a gaggle of sport jumpers. An incursion into Pakistan with any chance of success would require a night drop and HALO techniques. Without the use of camouflage sticks to darken their faces, they blithely launch, again, a daylight assault on a heavily guarded compound, of which they have little intelligence. They scoop up their objective, the reporter, and make a run for it, but of course, there was no interdiction personnel assigned to destroy or hinder the Talib reinforcements. Of course things get worse when their sole means of communication is destroyed and they can't contact higher headquarters. The helos assigned to recover them fly in, broad daylight, get chased away by Talib gunfire causing our plucky band to have to high tail it over the Hindu Kush mountains back into Afghanistan. Didn't anyone ever hear of redundant comm systems, and backup extraction points? Apparently not, so with the Talibs in full pursuit they trek onwards. Disregarding any sense of security they blithely walk into a Pakistani village hoping that the locals will be friendly. Of course they are, which results in a playful game of keep away with one of the soldier's hats, much more important than perimeter security, and oops, one of the solders gets sniped. How was he part of the unit anyway as it looked as if he was serving as an ANF assistance instructor when the team arrived in country? Anyway, after clearly exposing themselves by walking on every ridgeline in the country, more soldiers die and the Talib numbers grow. After seemingly evading being overrun by weathering a snowstorm, the half dead survivors are suddenly ambushed by the chasing Talibs who are all fresh as daisies. How did they get there? The amount of ammo expended by our heroes would require a deuce-and-a-half to carry, yet despite sending 10s of thousands of rounds downrange do they happen to carry any grenades or claymores? Nope. Finally, by sheer luck, the reporter is found and she pluckily helps the SAR team find the team survivors, now reduced to two. Most likely they'll receive the Legion d'Honneur medal, but what they really need is a refresher course at basic infantry training school.
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Excellent -Surprisingly Very Good Movie!
Ladybbird-269-94514618 January 2012
"Special Forces" Released 8 Nov 2011. That is the best movie I have seen in a very very long time, (years in fact). The acting, scenery, direction and production were excellent and the scenery was breathtaking.

You should watch it, It was about the French Special Forces against the Afghanistans (A woman French journalist and her aide in Afghanistan is kidnapped by the Taliban.)

Nothing is lost by the movie language being in French and English. You felt the tension all the way through and it kept your attention right up to the end.

It was one of those movies that you wished would never end. The effort made in ensuring every detail was correct, was worth it. I very nearly didn't watch it as I thought it may be another of those US Special Forces movies, where everyone is a hero and nobody dies. Not the case in this one,,,,, it was very sad at what happened to them.

I doubt this will win any awards or Oscars from Hollywood, which is sad,,,,they are not part of the Hollywood "luvies"
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A solid portrayal of modern warfare
brchthethird14 November 2014
While a tad overlong and light on character development, SPECIAL FORCES nevertheless delivers a fairly solid entry in the modern warfare genre. The plot is rather simple: a French special forces unit (the movie is French/French-produced) is sent in to rescue a journalist from Afghanistan who has been captured by a Taliban warlord. Right off the bat, you are introduced to the principal characters, but not much is given in the way of character development or making the audience care, aside from some small character moments interspersed throughout the latter half of the film. The performances are adequate, with the best being given by Diane Kruger (as the journalist) and Djimon Hounsou (one of the special forces guys). The actor who portrays the Taliban warlord also does a good job, probably adding some depth to his character by having him be Western-educated and somewhat caught between Western culture and his own culture and beliefs, but not much attention is paid to his character either. It also doesn't help that his demise later in the film is done so haphazardly and unceremoniously. As far as the combat sequences go, they were fine and done in current "en vogue" style of somewhat shaky "cinema verite" realism to give a sense of the chaos of battle. The violence was effective and not gratuitous in any way. However, towards the end the movie drags a little bit as we're shown day after day passing of the core group trying to get away from their pursuers and safely back into Afghanistan (they've been wandering around in the Pakistani desert for most of the movie). Overall, the movie is effective in the combat sequences and showing how the special forces team bond with the people they try to rescue. Over the course of the film, you do grow to care a little bit more about the characters but not because you feel like you really know them, just because you empathize with the sticky situation they're in. The movie aspires to be SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (made by the French, and set during the Afghan war), but it falls short of the mark. Still, it makes for a somewhat entertaining, slightly taxing, viewing experience.
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MadamWarden18 November 2021
A shootemup tour de force. The French are armed with guns that never run out of ammo and bullets that always hit their innumerable targets and yet they can't get shot.

Unless for dramatic effect of course.

Ok if you can suspend disbelief.
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Don't expect too much from this film
The-Sarkologist25 January 2013
This was one of those films that when I saw the trailer I really wanted to see it, but when I actually saw it, while it didn't necessarily disappoint me, I had sort of been expecting more than it could have really delivered. Mind you, it is a good movie, and if you do like action flicks, then it is certainly a film to watch, but don't get too excited over it because basically it is a war movie made by the French but seems more Hollywood than a French film.

Basically the premise is that a war correspondent in Afghanistan is kidnapped by the Taliban and taken to the Tribal Lands in Pakistan, and the French government decide to commit a team of special forces operatives to rescue her. However, after a successful rescue, the extraction squad are unable to pick them up, so they are forced to march ten days over the Hindu Kush to attempt to get back to safety. Mind you, being stuck here they were there is no safety for miles, and I sort of wonder why they actually went into Afghanistan rather than going deeper into Pakhistan, but then it is probably because they weren't actually supposed to be there.

Mind you, the cinematography was brilliant, as was the story about the struggle against the elements and a multitude of enemies to get back home, and while people were dropping like flies (as can be expected in such a scenario) there were still a couple of unrealistic elements, such as the unlimited ammo the soldiers seemed to have, or the fact that she had developed frost bite, but did could still walk afterwards (or I thought it was supposed to be frost bite).

Mind you, this was not necessarily a film where we have some hard core western soldiers killing lots of Muslim extremists, because the film did indicate that there are differences within this culture, and that there are a lot of people who actually do not like the Taliban, and pretty much live in fear of them. This is particularly the case in the tribal village where the soldiers are shown hospitality, but then later when the Taliban arrive, they begin to gun down and abuse the villagers.

Look, this is a good film, but it is probably one that you would want to watch once and not worry about any more. In many cases I have seen many films like this before, but at least it seems a lot more realistic, and a lot more acceptable, than the Delta Force.
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French against-all-odds rescue mission in Pakistan; far better than recent Stallone efforts.
suite928 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Maina gives Elsa an interview. She reveals her face, and the fact that her family sold her as a child to Zaief. This sets the stage for all the difficulties that follow.

Emily is kidnapped, French special forces gather to rescue her with the backing of the highest reaches of the French government.

Zaief has an interview with a high-ranking religious figure; he does not quite get the blessing he had hoped for. Maina and some of her supporters are murdered, firing squad style. The Special Forces group does not intervene, since their orders are for reconnaissance only.

They find Elsa and Amen early on, and start the long and winding escort to freedom.

Forty minutes in, their expected evacuation by helicopter fails due to lack of radio contact. This seemed a bit implausible, but allowed the rest of the screenplay to proceed.

They continue with the odds against them. Sacrifices are made, and the mission is eventually successful in a technical sense.


Cinematography: 10/10 Top notch; magnificent visuals.

Sound: 10/10 Great sound.

Acting: 8/10 I thought the actors performed well versus the script.

Screenplay: 7/10 Dragged a bit in the middle. A small number of the fighting tactics looked amateurishly stupid. Compared to a number of recent American action films, this is intelligent, well plotted, and engaging.
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Great french movie
Sayasam6 October 2013
If you like war stories, if you like survival, if you like army movies...

Look no further.

This wonderful movie is about a group of 6 special forces, lost somewhere in the Middle East, without communications or vehicles.

They have to walk through the mountains to reach Afghanistan and their base.

The whole movie is not based on the travel, but it takes a big place.

This is an action and emotional film.

There are some good real action scenes and a lot of feelings during the long and hard travel.
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Gets boring after a while
kochampivo8 March 2012
I am not going to watch this movie again. Why? Because there was few moments in the movie where it felt real. Although some of the actors like the female reporter did a good job of acting, the surroundings didn't seem to be following. The action part looked like any other with the bad guys falling like flies and the good guys standing exposed to the bullets and nothing hitting them. The bad guys resembled zombies and just walked towards the bullets to die as soon as they could. Whenever any of the good guys were hit, everybody cried and screamed like it was the end of the world and they had a lot of time mourning right in the middle of sustained shootings. But the bad guys didn't care dying and as mentioned fell like flies to the ground. The chase scene also didn't look real. While the heroes had to pass high altitude in extremely cold and snow storm, the bad guys suddenly appeared and surprised them. Unlike the heroes, they had little clothing and no sign of wear and exhaustion. This movie could be a lot better if the action scene were a bit more realistic and the bad guys had more character and looked smarter. Other stuff that I didn't like was the fact that these guys where not found although the military had hundreds of ways of finding them. They didn't search for them and these guys had nothing electronic to send a signal back to base although they had everything else imaginable like infinite number of bullets to shoot during their journey. Sometimes in the movie you could see that they had used ideas from other movies to make it more dramatic. You can of course watch this movie but don't be afraid to get disappointed.
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Mission no too successful, but the movie is
JohnRayPeterson8 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Everyone, including those who found more faults with the movie than there is worth a mention, will agree that the cinematography, the scenery, is spectacular. The opening prologue has the Special Forces team on a mission in Kosovo; those scenes are meant to leave the viewer with the notion that the French Special Forces is an elite team that makes taking a prisoner behind enemy lines a walk in the park. The director wants you to have that notion so that, as the movie's real mission takes place, you get a contrasting outlook into the work of such commandos. Indeed, when the team of six snatches from the Taliban hiding in Pakistan, the journalist and her Afghan aide, you don't expect two third of the group will perish one by one in a ten day ordeal. Because this movie makes you feel a sense of helplessness for the group, at some point midway through the movie, you know this is not a mediocre film; only good movies can manage to convey that to an audience.

The movie has all that a big budget Hollywood production would have, but it focuses equally on the human tragedy unfolding before the viewer. Hence, the adrenalin junky will get the excitement that comes with the battles scenes, the social minded viewer will get the drama that comes with bonding in extreme circumstances, and the suspense enthusiast will appreciate the unraveling of a ten day roller coaster ordeal.

The international movie star Djimon Hounsou, does not fail to impress yet again with his performance; his roles in The Gladiator, The Island, Blood Diamond, Never Back Down and Push are all intense characters I much relished, as I did the one of Kovax in this movie. Diane Kruger is no doubt a big part of the movie's success as she does a superb job playing Elsa the kidnapped French journalist; thankfully, the script covers that back-story of why she was kidnapped. That back-story is integrated well in the middle of the film as well (good editing makes it look seamless) and makes for a more credible story.

Sure there are parts anyone may feel unrealistic, but then again who can say what is or isn't; I'll accept that sort of thing from a vet, not a would-be critic like myself. I loved the parachuting scenes and the scary looking and sounding Taliban, especially their leader; the bad guys were depicted as a bunch you ought not to mess with (ain't that the truth). I can't believe this movie was made for aprox €10M; you get to see a French aircraft carrier (not the usual US carrier), and that's not something you see every day. I will highly recommend this movie to all my friends. I don't know if there's an English dubbed version; I did not look for it, I prefer movies in their original version if I can understand enough of the dialogue and if sub-titles are readily available when I don't.
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