Afghanistan, present day. French war correspondent Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger) is working on a female human rights story but is betrayed and then taken hostage by the Taliban, despite ignoring the warnings to leave the area by her local guide. The French government meet to discuss the crisis in Paris and it's decided that no French woman will ever appear on video being decapitated and so it's time to call in the Special Forces teams.
One such team has just completed a successful mission in Kosovo and are busy enjoying a well earned bit of R&R. The team are tight knit but of vastly different characters, some sensible and others not with some thought so irresponsible that his wife elects not to tell him that she is pregnant, although most of his colleagues seem to know. Still, he's a good soldier and a vital member of the team, so no one feels any qualms in keeping the secret and quickly forget about this when they get the call to spring into action.
One short hop to Afghanistan later, the team pick up a couple more members and then head into the wilderness that is Afghanistan to rescue Elsa. That accomplished with relative ease, it doesn't take long for the Taliban to regroup and pursue the French team.
This has the impact of ruining the successful pick up of all at the designated rendezvous and the group must head on foot to the Pakistan border in order to reach safety - which isn't easy when you have massed armed hordes led by a mad converted Englishman at their helm...
The visuals on blu-ray are very impressive, with good colouring and sharp picture. There's also an abundance of stunning panoramic aerial shots that show off the locations chosen, this seems almost obligatory in the post Lord of the Rings cinematic world. Not complaining though but couldn't help thinking that it was unlikely that the characters in the film were admiring the scenery in the same way I was.
Nice little featurette on the real-life soldier who plays Marius in the film, who appear to be a Special Forces instructor. Excellent feature length Making Of documentary that goes into some detail on how the film was made.
The war in Afghanistan is drawing to a close with both British and American armed forces due to start their withdrawal next year. We've now been in Afghanistan for more than 10 years and it is arguable that overall we may not have changed much in terms of what is happening on the ground. That isn't to lay any blame at the feet of our armed forces who can only complete their localised missions against those set from the comfort of their respective Governments. And despite the best efforts of documentary makers like Ross Kemp, who has proven rather adept at his new career, the focus in this conflict is on the overall strategy rather than the true story of localised actions - which is where film comes into it's own.
Special Forces is a cracking action adventure that works really well, even in spite of the fact it features one of the lesser known military forces in the current Afghanistan theatre of operations. The actors look and mainly act the part, with the odd occasion when professional detachment becomes detached and they start bickering with one another.
This film suffers as similar in the genre do with limitless ammunition and extended death scenes within firefights, although as expected only on the one side. The main villain is meant to be English and Oxbridge educated and that sits quite nicely in showing the differences between cultures and fundamentalism as he quite blatantly cares nothing for his troops in her pursuit of Elsa, and summarily executes anyone who gets in his way.
This is not an original film by any means and wears it's influences on it's sleeve, but it is well done and looks fantastic. It also seems a bit more grounded, rough and ready if you like, to films of similar ilk as it appears to lack the typical Hollywood gloss and actually benefits from this.