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This review is from: Special Forces [Region 2] (DVD)
An article is written by a French journalist named Elsa (Diane Kruger) with the intention of exposing the Pakistani warlord named Zaief (Raz Degan) for what he really is. Seeking retribution for being called "the butcher of Kabul," Zaief captures Elsa and her friend Amen (Mehdi Nebbou) and holds them both hostage. A French Special Forces team lead by Kovax (Djimon Hounsou) is sent in to rescue them, but when a stray bullet severs their only means of communication they find themselves journeying back to Afghanistan on foot.
The French war adventure film opens with what is quite possibly the most ridiculous music to try and accompany soldiers or a war. There are helicopters flying in the air, soldiers scouting out the landscape, and this extremely serious tone but it doesn't feel sincere because Big Audio Dynamite is blaring in the background. It just doesn't seem to fit the tone of the film at all. In the meantime, the rest of the score is completely generic. There's this guitar heavy piece that's used literally every five minutes or so. If the inadequate music wasn't enough, the film is edited like a bad music video with constant quick cuts, flashes of light, and even slow motion.
The first half of the film is nearly unbearable; there's no character development and these really lame attempts at humor. "We need to be set up at the landing site in an hour and a half." "Oh, no time to go shopping then?" It seems like "Special Forces" is just going through the motions at first. It's a rescue mission with no depth, but things begin to turn around once they reach the village. The action picks up and suddenly everyone realizes that, "Oh crap, we should actually be trying to invest in people's emotions here!"
Diane Kruger has the most draining performance. Elsa is put through hell and you can see the toll it takes on her both physically and emotionally. What's unfortunate about her is that she's so stubborn that it completely voids out rational thinking the majority of the time. She is given at least half a dozen signs and told just as often to leave the country, but decides to stay to try and protect her informer Maina (Morjana Alaoui) even though she never sees her after the opening scene. She's also given a gun by Lucas (Denis Menochet) and is told something along the lines of "just in case" and "you'll never know." Even when things go south, she's never seen using it. Instead she's given another gun later, which she also doesn't use. So Elsa can be a successful journalist and gain worldwide attention, but can't use basic logic even though her life in addition to eight others depends on it.
Djimon Hounsou has a really passionate performance, as well. He's so devoted to his mission and his men. Benoit Magimel as Tic-Tac is able to add some awkward charm. Raphael Personnaz is the biggest bad ass. The sniper exchange at the village is just insane. Raz Degan is fairly impressive as Zaief. While the character is pretty flat, it does seem like he does the best he can with what's in front of him. His cold eyes accompanied by his loathsome actions cause him to stand out in a sea of mediocrity.
"Special Forces" is incredibly similar to "Act of Valor" in story and tone. On the positive side, "Special Forces" doesn't feel as force fed as "Act of Valor" and has better, more emotionally charged performances in its second half. It could have been so much more though, especially if the first half of the film was written better and had more depth. You might actually care about the events that unfold in the process. "Special Forces" isn't very special at all. Predictable and run of the mill with terrible music and the most generic editing around, "Special Forces" feels like it lasts the 11 days it chronicles.