Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Special Forces a Netflix movie review

For me a movie needs to hold my attention - which means my willingness to suspend disbelief must be maintained.  If I find myself rolling my eyes, or cussing at the screen, it does not bode well.

Just finished watching Special Forces (Forces spéciales) on Netflix.  It's a French film staring Djimon Hounsou as the special forces team leader, and Diane Kruger as a war correspondent.  It's billed as a rescue mission, which I suppose, is a reasonably accurate description. 
The film has subtitles for a significant part, as it's mostly in French. 
Elsa (our French war correspondent) is in Pakistan reporting on Taliban treatment of women when she is kidnapped.   Her kidnapper Zaief, is apparently known to her, she's written about him and perhaps met him in the west where he seems to have spent much of his early life (hint of an English accent maybe?).  French intelligence claims he's taken her off to his tribal base in the Wardak region (central Afghanistan) The team lead by Kovax (Djimon Hounsou) is sent in to get her back.

If you are an fan of military movies - which I am, you notice stuff that the average person would miss. I imagine my lack of military background means I miss quite a bit that military person would pick up on.  Sometimes the those little mistakes (or moderate) break the movie for me. There were more than a few in this one, but oddly by the time they rescued the girl and were attempting exfiltration I just didn't care.  It became easy to care about the people, to get involved in their struggle, to empathize.  The men acted much like I would expect, perhaps a bit more emotional than a stereotypical SF guy - but then, they were French.  I just really got the feeling that these guys had spent a lot of time together, both good and bad. That they really were closer than family. 
 I wold hardly call this a realistic movie, but it's fast paced, and the human is good.  All in all I quite enjoyed it. 

So now for the bad:
There was a opening shot previous mission (much bigger team). The helicopters are wandering around for a bit over the buildings and then teams fast rope down, when they leave they attach them selves to a big fat rope and fly out with their prisoner all hanging 30 feet below the chopper.   Might look cool, but if you're going to take your figging time putting boots on the ground and you're picking up a prisoner - and there is space to land, why the heck do you dick around with ropes coming and going? 

Six men go into clear out a multi building encampment - well 5 really as one is a sniper on overwatch. And one of them starts off with a pistol - seriously a Pistol?  Who the hell walks into armed camp with their pistol instead of one of the MP5SD suppressed sub-guns everyone was carrying?  At one point one guy switches from an MP5SD to a unsuppressed Glock - which struck me as a BAD idea, then again he was back on the MP5SD the next time I saw him. There was an apparent lack of body armor, or much in the way of ammo carriers. I'm sitting there thinking - wow these guys really like to travel light, where's all that crap they jumped out of the plane with.  Fortunately they remedied that problem a bit later when they picked up all the gear they'd apparently ditched (still, I'd want some armor if I were going in to an armed camp with the intent to clear it door-to-door.) 

The chase thought he hills was fine, except the tendency to stand up in the open and shoot back at the pursuing hoards, even when cover was available.  They failed to link up with their chopper extraction and announce they have no Plan B - really? special forces - rescue mission -  deep in enemy territory and no Plan B?   So the on the fly "I guess we'll go that way" takes them over snow capped mountains, though a blizzard, with insufficient equipment, clothing, food - and if that was the only obvious choice for walking out - why the hell wasn't there an alternate LZ along that route?

The final thing that still confuses is they talk about crossing the border into Afghanistan - when the hell did they ever leave it?  Wardak Provence is probably 200km from the nearest border.  As it turns out, the hostages are in Pakistan - perhaps the original intelligence was crap - actually that might make it the most realistic thing in the movie. Maybe the writers simply forgot they mentioned Wardak province and really wanted that whole crossing the border thing. 

Well despite the weirdness  and weak points in the story - the human element I think made up for it. I'd watch it again.

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