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In Afghanistan, a renowned journalist, Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger), is ambushed and kidnapped by Ahmed Zaef (Raz Degan). A French Special Forces team led by Kovax (Djimon Hounsou) is dispatched to rescue her but when their extraction doesn't go as planned the team have to  trek through the mountains towards the Afghan border with Elsa's captors in pursuit.

 Special Forces
Special Forces is a big old epic of a war flick without ever going into full on battle territory. It's got some pretty visuals, a strong, grown up 'escape the terrorists' plot and a nice batch of characters. This is a big, brave French production but for all of its high points I can't shake the feeling I've seen all this before.

The long trek out of a country seems to have been done to death and the film's approach to the Afghanistan situation feels too lived in to have any of its own personality here. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's so flat here as the actors deliver good (albeit quite typical) performances and for the most part the situation is handled with a sense of reality rather than becoming a full on thriller but something didn't quite click for me.

 Special Forces

Video


The presentation is pretty close to perfect and when scenes are under natural sunlight (which is a whole lot) and the cinematography is showing off, it's a very impressive image indeed.

From the opening credits everything is crisp, detailed, bright, naturally lit and full of cinematic beauty. The Afghanistan scenes are golden and full of rich warm lighting, dusty colours and sunlit detail to die for. Dianne's blue eyes pop off of the screen and the more characters get covered in dust and sand, the more the detail leaps off of the screen.

The France based scenes in the first act of the movie are equally impressive but with a more surburban feel, so lots of nice houses with red bricks and modern offices and shiny clean cars. Faces are full of texture throughout. Pores, blemishes, sweat, everything is super sharp. The visuals for the special forces at work and all things army are also celebrated. Not in a super slick Michael Bay way (though there is a bit of that too) but in a simple (but equally as cool) 'point the camera at a banking helicopter on a landing plane kicking up the sand and let the epicness of the event shine', sort of way. All in all Special Forces has a spectacular transfer.

 Special Forces

Audio


To go with the typical story we get a typical thriller score adding pace, tension and intrigue at every turn. The song choices feel a bit weak in the mix, though seem to be wanting to do more than they are and this can cause the mix to feel a bit uneven from time to time.

Gun shots sound realistic and only en masse are they overbearing. Ambience is quite well placed, widening the sense of space in the mountain ranges and dialogue is always strong and central. Really, this is a solid track though it's really only the action sequences that unleashes it's full range.

 Special Forces

Extras


The 'Making of' (01:27:00 HD) is an epic feeling documentary about at epic film. Loads of narrated details, intercut with on set footage and generally it follows the cast and crews through their journey across three continents while shooting the film.

'Marius' (03:19 HD) is some footage about the real life hardcore marine and his training of three actors and his troops and lastly there's the deleted scenes (05:11 HD)

 Special Forces

Overall


Special Forces really feels like a big event for French cinema with a huge feeling scale, luscious Hollywood visuals and a strong cast (who are a mix of international faces and French film stars who I'm beginning to recognise due to my reviews of French films for DVDActive). The story is a little familiar but the video presentation here is damn pretty and there's a proper making of in the extras to make this quite a compelling release for any fans of the genre.


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