Based on the true story, an elite SWAT team are given the dangerous mission of storming a high-jacked Air France plane to save the lives of everybody on board. Set in 1994 when the real life events took place, the harrowing tale unfolding on Christmas Day saw four armed terrorists seize control of a plane heading for Paris.
Newcomer Julien Leclercq has crafted a gripping account of what happened leading up to the climatic assault on the plane. The story is told from three separate strands, there’s the point of view from the GIGN squad leader Thierry (Vincent Elbaz), on the opposite side of the law we follow terrorist leader Yahia (Aymen Saidi) and Carole (Melanie Bernier) the French Ministry member who has a difficult task attempting to prove the terrorists have no intention of surviving their mission.
There is always the danger when you have multiple story threads that get left out, given the modest running time of 90 minutes no one story is given enough screen time. However, this is a bold move and for the most part it works in the movie’s favour, There’s no bad performances but there’s also no standout ones, Vincent Elbaz is a solid leading man and his story should be compelling, but it lacks an emotional connection which does harm the overall movie.
These issues aside, this is an effective little movie that feels like a bigger production than it actually is, Paul Greengrass’s distinctive style has clearly had an influence and the pace is kept tight throughout. In the same way United 93 handled a difficult subject matter with respect, Leclercq does a good job of telling a balanced story and handles the material with care.
The recently released Act of Valor starred a real group of active-duty Navy Seals, whilst the movie had a true authentic feel it lacked the other elements to make it a good movie. There are times in The Assault when the odd bit of ham fisted dialogue or clumsy bit of editing detracts from the intensity. The faux-vérité look is used to good effect, this has almost become a standard for real life based harrowing tales as it is a fitting stylistic choice.
The last 20 minutes of the film sees a showdown on a runway as the plane is refueling, oddly most of this set piece has been shot in tight close-ups which would have been fine in moderation, but this causes the pivotal scene to become confused and difficult to see what’s going on.
Considering this is Julien Leclerq’s second feature film he certainly shows promise as a rising director and The Assault is worth tracking down on DVD or Blu Ray.Pin It