Cassanova opposed the invasion of Afghanistan and wears keffiyehs. She thought she would fit right in, but she
is shocked to discover the Taliban systematically abuse local women. As a result of her reporting on the horrors
experienced by a woman sold into marriage-slavery to a prominent Taliban warlord,
Cassanova is abducted and forced to make some rather ominous internet
videos. Without proper backup, an elite
commando unit will mount a rescue attempt in Stéphane Rybojad’s Special Forces (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
is a good thing Cassanova est tres jolie.
The prospect of her beheading has the French government freaked. While the men under Commander Kovax command
are not exactly thrilled with her byline, they will bring her home anyway. It will not be easy though. They will face Ahmed Zaief, an Islamist
fanatic Cassanova dubbed “The Butcher of Kabul.” You’d think he’s like that, but no, evidently
a mission planned on the fly, Kovax’s men liberate Cassanova from her immediate
captors easily enough. However, things
get complicated with the extraction. Cut
off from their rendezvous points, the commandos have no choice but to head home
on foot over the mountains, from Zaief’s Pakistani hideout to their base in
Afghanistan, just like the gulag escapees in Peter Weir’s The Way Back. However, Zaief
and his men will pursue them (somewhat reluctantly) every step of the way.
the French initially seem to have A-Team like success holding off the Taliban
fighters, it should be kept in mind they have superior firepower, better
morale, and higher ground all in their favor.
Nonetheless, their charmed luck soon runs out, with squad members dying
off one by one. Eventually, only the
biggest stars are left to protect Cassanova.
That includes Djimon Hounsou as Kovax and Benoît Magimel as a Tic Tac, a
flirty paratrooper who might just have a shot with the lefty journalist, if
they both survive.
should take note, Hounsou was an inspired casting decision. Blessed with a truly commanding screen
presence, he is completely credible in every action scene and lends the film
dignified gravitas. A Ryan Golsing or
Reynolds just would not cut the Dijon mustard here. While not as hardnosed, Magimel is sufficient
as the sensitive commando. Also
perfectly cast, Diane Kruger nicely portrays Casanova’s resiliency in the face
of harsh elements and harsher Islamists extremists. It is hard to think of any other name actress
working in film today who can similarly combine grit and beauty.
Well known in France for his military
documentaries, Rybojad’s narrative is about as straight as gets, never throwing
any sort of twist or turn the audience’s way.
Yet, to his considerable credit, her never whitewashes or excuses the
brutality of the Taliban. We see several
instances of the terror they rain down on helpless villagers as well as the
destruction left in their wake. Again,
this is an example of the sort of film Hollywood ought to be making, but
refuses to. Recommended for both action
movies fans and Francophiles, Special
Forces opens this Friday (10/12) in New York at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Afghanistan, Diane Kruger, Djimon Hounsou, French Cinema