Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Assault (2010)

French thriller recounting the true story of the hijack of an Air France plane on Christmas Eve 1994.

In washed out tones and slow motion we watch as a special forces unit performs a raid on a house. It’s a simple but stunning piece of filmmaking that makes you sit up in your sit and go hello. From the moment it starts we as an audience are hooked and forced to follow as we watch the story of the 1994 Christmas hijacking in Algiers.

The Assault is a stunning piece of film making. It’s a just the facts story of what happens as four hijackers take a plane in Algiers hoping to turn it into a flying bomb and crash it into the Eiffel Tower. We watch as the hijackers deal with the unfolding situation, the French government try to unravel the situation and the strike force plans how to handle the situation. It’s a just the events as they unfold on a human level. There is no real politics (we watch as a woman from the interior ministry tries to get information but we don’t see the political wrangling of the ministers above her), we watch the hijackers as they prepare to go on their mission and only get hints of their lives outside. We learn the most about the strike force, and their leader and his family. Mostly we just watch as things play out culminating in one hell of a shoot out.

The finale of the film is the storming of the plane and I would be hard pressed to say that its not one of the more amazing things I’ve seen this year in film. (And considering the treats I’ve had just at Tribeca, never mind elsewhere that’s saying a great deal). It’s one of the best action set pieces of the last couple of years. It will rock your world. The more amazing thing is that it’s true. It proves very clearly that we don’t need over done, overly clever big budget shoot outs when the real world stuff is so much more involving. I loved this piece.

Oddly as a great as the opening and closings of the film are the middle section where we watch events move to their violent conclusion, is just good. It’s not bad, not even remotely but it’s just solidly good. The problem is that as good as material is it’s so documentary in it’s approach that we never fully really care about most of the characters. (It's so documentary it's hard to say anything about the film because it just is, like news footage) Yes, we like our Special Forces hero and his family, but everyone else isn’t given much to do. We only get fleeting glimpses of the huge number of characters so we never fully emotionally connect. It keeps the film from reaching the heights of the final sequence.

Do understand I’m nit picking. I’m being a weenie and asking a great film to be more so, to be perfect, I should probably be smacked around for it, but when you see the film (and you should see this film, no really you should) you’ll understand.

An amazing must see film.

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