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Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Assault

- Thierry, a French special-ops policeman

This week's movie was The Assault (L'Assaut), a 2012 French film. Remember the 2010 French film, Of Gods and Men? It was about ...

the monastery of Tibhirine, where nine Trappist monks lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population of Algeria, until seven of them were kidnapped and assassinated in 1996 during the Algerian Civil War.

The Assault also deals with the consequences of the Algerian Civil War. The film is about ...

the 1994 hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 by Algerian Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and the raid to free the hostages by the GIGN, the elite counter-terrorism paramilitary unit of the French National Gendarmerie. The director is Julien Leclercq, and the cast includes Vincent Elbaz, Aymen Saïdi, and Mélanie Bernier

The Assault is in black and white and the American version which I saw is dubbed - it's pretty well done and you stop noticing it after a bit. I hadn't heard anything about the film and picked it based on the trailer I saw at Apple, but I did think it was gripping and disturbing (rated R) and good. Some may see it as anti-Islamic - the reviewer of the movie at the NYT makes a remake about this - but my feeling is that it's not fictional, it's history, and if awful stuff is portrayed, that's because awful stuff actually happened.

Here's what a short review in The Guardian said of it (taut/taught? :) ...

A taught re-creation of the 1994 Air France Flight 8969 hijacking. The no-frills narrative flits around three vantage points: the lead terrorist, the government negotiator and the point man for the French elite counter-terrorism squad. Director Leclercq, who delivered promising low-budget sci-fi film Chrysalis, builds up the pressure leading to the inevitable storming, and it's hard not to get caught up. The characters are drawn with lean precision: there's no time for grandstanding speeches, and very little sentimentality. The kind of serious, adult action movie that the US and UK struggle to make.


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