Jarringly sentimental overtones and distractingly repetitive visual element form a frustratingly confused experience.
The uninspired title should be a giveaway. But if, for some reason, it doesn’t prove sufficient enough to subdue expectations, the opening moments of Special Forces will leave you in no two minds.
With its thumping rock soundtrack and kinetic camerawork, Stéphane Rybojad’s film instantly marks itself out as a kind of hyper-macho war advertisement for those who enjoy gun porn and hours poring over Call of Duty and its ilk – exactly the sort of person who, perversely, is likely to find Special Forces even duller than everyone else.
When a prolific French journalist is kidnapped in Afghanistan, an elite force of French Special Ops is dispatched to rescue her from her Taliban captors. So far, so standard. But the abrupt resolution of the hostage situation relatively early on leads the film to veer dramatically into unexpected on-the-run territory. For various reasons, the mission goes spectacularly awry and the group is left without the necessary provisions to make contact with support, leaving them out on a limb in hostile territory.
It’s from this point onwards that the film effectively becomes a mash-up of unfortunate and increasingly unlikely events, leading to the group being chased by a seemingly infinite number of Taliban, inexplicably forced up a mountain and eventually coaxed in to a predictable, utterly implausible encounter with their pursuers on the other side.
Technically, Rybojad’s film should be a relatively entertaining affair – in spite of its plot holes and laughably overly masculine elements it certainly sets itself up to deliver the goods. But the odd mix of jarringly sentimental overtones and distractingly repetitive visual elements, including regular helicopter panoramas and enumerate fades to black, come together to form an experience that’s as frustratingly confused as it is boringly contrived.
Quite why a film that purports to be largely action-oriented ends up unfolding in to something so dull begs the question as to why it was worth bothering in the first place. There’s no doubt that Rybojad’s intentions are sincere and he clearly means well in his attempt to pay tribute to servicemen in the field. This tiresome film certainly isn’t the way to do it, though.
War. Hostages. Special Forces. Subsequent déjà-vu.
War is awful. We get it.