Forces spéciales

Special Forces

English theatrical release poster
Directed by Stéphane Rybojad
Produced by
  • Thierry Marro
  • Benoit Ponsaillé
Screenplay by
  • Michael Cooper
  • Stéphane Rybojad
Music by Xavier Berthelot
Cinematography David Jankowski[1]
Edited by Erwan Pecher
Easy Company
Distributed by StudioCanal
Release dates
  • 2 November 2011 (2011-11-02) (France)
  • 12 March 2012 (2012-03-12) (UK)


Running time
110 minutes
Country France
  • French
  • English
Budget $9.9 million
Box office $1.9 million[3]

Forces spéciales (English: Special Forces) is a 2011 French war adventure film directed by Stéphane Rybojad and starring Diane Kruger, Djimon Hounsou, Denis Ménochet, Benoît Magimel, Mehdi Nebbou, and Tchéky Karyo.[4] Filmed on location in France, Djibouti, and Tajikistan, the film shows a group of elite French soldiers on a desperate hostage rescue mission in the Afghanistan/Pakistan area. Forces spéciales is mainly in French, with brief scenes in English and Afghan Persian (Dari).

Plot summary

Kabul-based French journalist Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger) writes an article about warlord Zaief (Raz Degan) and names him "the butcher of Kabul". Her informer Maina (Morjana Alaoui) warns her that Zaief is out for vengeance. Before she returns to Zaief, she bids farewell because she reckons to die by an honour killing. Elsa tries to hold her back but fails. Her friend Amen (Mehdi Nebbou) urges Elsa to leave the country, yet, agrees to help her try save Maina. Zaief ambushes and captures Elsa and Amen. Amen asks Elsa to show no fear in front of Zaief. Still, she breaks down when their friend Salemani (Greg Fromentin) gets cruelly murdered in her presence.

Zaief publishes film material of Salemani's gruesome death, which eventually reaches the French government. A team of French Naval Commandos gets entrusted with Elsa's rescue. They find Zaief's hideout in Pakistan and witness execution of Maina. When they leave the place with Elsa and Amen, a bullet hits their wireless set. Without means to contact their base, they cannot manage to be found and picked up.

In lack of any other solution, they are heading for the Khyber Pass in order to reach their base in Afghanistan on foot. In the mountains, they have another shoot-out with Zaief's gunmen.

When the fugitives come across a village, Elsa asks for hospitality. While they enjoy themselves with the locals, Marius (Alain Alivon) is suddenly killed by a sniper, who is killed by the team's own marksman Elias (Raphaël Personnaz). Later on, Zaief's gunmen arrive, and Zaief himself kills Amen. When Victor is hit, they retreat into the mountains.

Elias is the second of the team to be killed while luring Zaief's soldiers away. Victor, Kovax, Lucas, and Elsa soon run into a snowstorm, but Victor subsequently goes into shock and dies. Once again Zaief attacks, and Lucas is killed, Tic-Tac is injured and Kovax kills Zaief after he takes Elsa hostage.

They still have a long way ahead of themselves when they are surprised by a debris avalanche. Kovax can save Elsa and Tic-Tac but breaks a leg. The two men persuade Elsa to leave them behind. Elsa, marked by severe exhaustion, scarcely reaches a road where she is rescued. She refuses to return to Paris and has herself taken out of her wheelchair by Admiral Guezennec (Tchéky Karyo) who carries her on his back to a helicopter. Together they find Kovax and Tic-Tac still alive.




While filming the action scenes, the actors were overseen and advised by French naval special forces according to the press folder available on the official site. Moreover, one of their former chief instructors (Alain Alivon) played his own role.


Reception of the film has been mixed. The film holds a rating of 6.3/10 on IMDB, and of user 3.3/5 and a critical rating of 4/10 at Rotten Tomatoes.[6]

Robert Abele of Los Angeles Times concluded that "It's not only Americans who can make leaden, video game-style exercises in dumb war action. [...] Writer/producer/director Stephane Rybojad likes his Islamic fundamentalists childishly ruthless, his Afghani victims helpless and his first-person-shooter heroes full of spit, vinegar and martyr-laced bravado."[7]

Virgin Media has a rating of 46%, judging that "With a strong cast featuring Diane Kruger and Djimon Hounsou, a powerful story and some sharp cinematography, this tense French action drama about the kidnapping of a journalist in Afghanistan is a nice change to your usual French cinema."[8]

David Beckett of Film 365 judged that "As far as wartime action/adventure films go, Special Forces isn't a great movie, but I found it to be a remarkable cinematic achievement and one which is extremely involving"[9]

Cinevue's Amy Wadsworth attested Forces spéciales to develop towards its end into "an engaging survival story of devotion and solidarity".[10]

See also

Similarly themed movies:


External links

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