Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Special Forces (2011): If You Liked Act of Valor, You Will Like This

I pulled this off Netflix, and I was a bit surprised.  No, not U.S. Special Forces, but a French commando unit sent into the tribal areas of Pakistan to free a French journalist (and relative of a French politician) from the Taliban.  This film has nearly all the strengths of Act of Valor: an exciting action film; a work of fiction, but fiction not too terribly far removed from real events; brave but human heroes; and bad guys who would have been close to unbelievably evil -- until the Taliban came along, who behave in ways that are practically cardboard cutout monsters.  And yet even the chief warlord here has his moments when brief glints of humanity intrude, before the monstrousness returns. 

Like Act of Valor, the film is exciting not just for the action sequences, but the exotic locales.  It was actually filmed partly in Pakistan and partly in Tajikistan, which is close enough to Afghanistan to do a convincing body double.  Unlike Act of Valor, these are all obviously professional actors, doing a more credible job of acting than our special ops guys did of acting in Act of Valor.  (And as I said when reviewing Act of Valor -- who cares?  I'm sure our special ops guys, or French special ops guys, do a better job of acting than vice versa.)

The reviews of Special Forces are overwhelmingly negative -- and I am pretty sure that politics has a lot to do with it.  Unfortunately, it is subtitled, and as one of the few even half-fair reviews pointed out:
But the film's U.S. commercial prospects are dim, given the widespread American aversion to subtitles, and its formulaic charms are unlikely to impress the art-house crowd.
The film is rated R for its violence, and the rating seems appropriate.  To its credit, a scene where someone is executed in al-Qaeda fashion is off-screen, and merely suggested.

1 comment:

  1. I agree nice film. Better than expected. Netflix seems to only get the subtitled versions, and I have to be in the mood to read a movie.