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A Nutshell Review: The Assault
DICK STEEL7 June 2011
USA has her SWAT, Japan has her Security Police, Brazil has her BOPE featured in Elite Squad, and as far as special police teams go, the French has got her GIGN (Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) making it onto the big screen, and what more than to introduce them via a true, high profile aircraft hijacking of an Air France Airbus 300 plane in the year 1994 involving the supposed attempt of using a fuel laden aircraft as a missile targeted against a major city landmark, a chilling 7 years before a terrorist group managed to carry out this dastardly act on the soil of USA.

Those of us who had grown up playing the first person shooter game Counter-strike will be no strangers to the uniform of the GIGN, since it is one of the four outfits that you can select on your character profile if you choose to be on the side of the counter-terrorists. Director Julien Leclercq paid close attention to detail and began with literally a big bang to showcase the capabilities of the GIGN troopers, before saving up the real deal for the extended final act. But that's not to say that the film is a boring ride. On the contrary, Leclercq crafted a gripping tale that moves, probes and examines very quickly how things get to spiral out of control until the inevitable outcome, expertly handling three separate narrative threads running concurrently before finally converging into the titular battle onboard the narrow confines of an aircraft.

The first naturally comes from the perpetrators, the terrorists, their thought process and ruthless action in causing mass panic and fear to further their political cause. Here it's the GIA out to free two of their comrades in Algeria, or so it seems, and had taken an Air France plane at the airport as leverage. But the second thread, focused on Mélanie Bernier's Foreign Ministry analyst Carole in a very Jack Ryan-esque role whose research, insights and gut feel points to a very different strategy and objective adopted by the hijackers, and has to cut through the usual red tape in the administration to push her points through, at times too direct that it irks the brass. And the last narrative thread paints a rather personal picture of GIGN trooper Thierry (Vincent Elbaz), personifying the issues and concerns of those who put their lives on the line to protect strangers, at the risk of upsetting and disappointing their own family members even, who cannot reconcile why they do what they do.

Technically, the film has fantastically strained its colour palette, making it very close to black and white, which I thought suited it fine since it's actually loosely referencing events from history (with the dramatic license for it too I hope) like a documentary, akin to accessing vague memory banks or like watching a news reel unspool - some of the clips that the characters watch from television were the real deal at the time. Then there is the choice of adopting the shaky cam. Now I'm not a proponent for this camera technique because more often than not it gets exploited by the filmmakers to cover up flaws in their work, and am finding it tiring as an audience to try and follow events on screen when the camera moves about almost all the time. It's not to say it cannot be used, because The Assault did it nicely that fit the narrative well, transmitting that sense of urgency and constant danger, helped by a pulsating soundtrack by Jean-Jacques Hertz and Francois Roy.

What made this film excel amongst its peers are the sensitive stories and characters involved in a life and death situation, with viewpoints presenting both in macro and micro terms, the latter allowing you to feel for the characters since it's set up very carefully to allow for empathy. Leclercq does not pull his punches in vilifying the evil doers, with powerful scenes both to evoke a sense of hatred for the senseless violence they preach, and in one potent scene involving a terrorist having to face up to his parents, allowed that slight sliver of sympathy that they are but pawns manipulated by others. It's a little pity though that the socio-political context of the incident isn't covered in the film in detail which may leave some perplexed, and while it may rob The Assault of its pace, may probably enhance the viewer's understanding of the conflict that existed.

As far as police thrillers go, The Assault scores high on both action and drama, providing that unique combination very rarely seen in action films, that allows you to feel for the characters, and appreciate the unenviable task of the special forces in the respective countries constantly training and prepping to deter any would be aggressors, but when the time calls for it, to swing into action unflinchingly. Tactics and weapons on display in the film also provides ample fuel for fruitful post screening discussions. Definitely one of my favourite films this year!
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Not an American approach to the subject
raymond-andre19 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Tight little movie based on the real events. Other reviewers above have expressed frustration at the slow tempo, lack of story context and budget.

First: The approach is very french in that you are expected to know some of the political context in which the story takes place. I have found that most of the people from France I know actually read newspapers, magazines and books and have a good grasp of both their history and current political affairs. Sadly, many Americans get their news exclusively from Fox.

The tangled and complex relationship between France and Algiers where the story begins would seem a mystery to North Americans, but (I would surmise) makes perfect sense to a french resident. The inept, corrupt mismanagement of the french government in this affair would also come as no shock to someone brought up in France and would need very little explaining to its native audience.

Secondly: The most expensive french film ever made could never rival an American super production. To its credit this film doesn't really try. It really doesn't need MORE and BIGGER explosions (especially when there were none during the actual event) to make its point. There is a lesson here for certain American producers.

THIRDLY: The cinematography, down tempo music score and tempo are obviously meant to create a bleak, depressing atmosphere.

In one of the first sequences, the French officer (Thierry) breaks in to a hostage situation and shoots the armed suspect only to find a woman hostage dead and a boy standing near her. He has arrived too late. He and the boy exchange a long look. I think we are meant to understand that the grim reality of his job is that these situations do not often turn out well.

This early scene sets the tone for the rest of the film, but also frames the ending, where, lying in a pool of his own blood, Thierry looks over and exchanges a very long look with one of the female hostages. The moment is not overdone. She doesn't crawl over to hold his hand or mouth a thank-you or anything. It is understood. Here is a man who sacrificed himself to obtain her freedom.

The film makers deliberately stretch out Thierry's agony, not revealing whether he lived or died all through the final shootout and all the way through to just before the credits. This was very well done.

Many French film makers have a different approach to what has become just another sub genre in American action films. This is something to be applauded all the more so because American film makers are no longer allowed to make these kinds of films.
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Way too overrated. Even as a French film, it was poorly done.
TheTopDawgCritic18 July 2017
Reading some of the reviews (probably fake and part of the production team), they are defending the color de-saturation/black and white effect, slow pace etc...

And then there's the other idiotic reviews that are basic plot summaries or synopsis - that's not a review and does not belong here, nor does it merit a film!

I've seen many great French films, and to simply excuse all the negative aspects of this film because it's French-made and it's to be expected, is no excuse for a poor screenplay, terrible editing, idiotic cinematography, and disgraceful directing.

Let's start with the de-saturation/black and white; it's meant for dated, artsy-type or musical films... French or not.

The shaky cam was so annoying, I wanted to stop watching this film every 15 minutes, but gave it a chance. This is not typical French cinematography or directing... this is the director trying to Americanize this film. Fail.

The editing was about as good as a fifth grader cutting pieces of paper for an abstract piece.

The screenplay is what needed the cutting; I didn't need to see forever-long prayers from the terrorists. We get it, they are loyal to their God. And screaming it non-stop to all the passengers - even a 5th grade bully would have had more intimidating dialogue.

The plot had more holes in it than the shots fired.

As one reviewer stated, this film would have been better as a documentary, and probably would have held the viewers attention better.

Sure the story based on actual events was interesting, and the casting wasn't too bad. But those are the only two reasons this film was deserving of my 4/10 score, but that's it.

Any amateur film-maker with an iPhone could have put together a better film and cut this screenplay to 1 hour and be more effective and entertaining.
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Very realistic and intense thriller...
Rabbit-Reviews22 February 2013
While we are on a subject of movies based on true events, we must mention this French gem from 2010. Although the production values are not blockbuster-like, as you would expect them in a movie of this caliber, the usual French colour manipulation and slight blur applied in post-processing made the whole thing look much better with almost noir vibe. I had some doubts about this movie, that it will be some Taxi-like action, but I assure you that this is a serious movie. The only flaw that I could think of is that they didn't manage to fully develop the characters, but then again that wasn't the point. The point was the assault, and that part was done perfectly.

In the past decade we have seen a number of movies portraying special forces of different countries (SWAT, BOPE…) so we finally get the chance to see the frenchies in action, and out of all them, they were most successful (at least in real life). The Assault is a movie about the hijacking of Air France Flight 8969, that was taken by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in the December of 1994 and the attempts of the French government to peacefully resolve this situation. Although this happened in 1994, after the September 11 attacks and a number of failed attempts to hijack other planes this is still a very interesting subject, especially now with the rise of the Islamic extremists. Speaking of them, we have a rare chance to look inside the mind of your average terrorist, and we have to thank the actors for that. Along with the actual raid, that part of the movie was just so fascinating to me. Maybe because of the outcome of this hijacking, they didn't hold back with the story and we can actually see what is going on behind closed doors. Bribes, pleads, blackmail and only as a final solution an assault… With a very talented director and a great cast, this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat with its realistic action and suspenseful atmosphere. The special bonus is that it's all true, and this just adds more tension to an already intense movie. I will not reveal you what happens in the end, but if you want you can check out the links below for more information, enjoy… As a final note, I must implore you that as with any other movie that isn't made in USA or England, please DO NOT watch the dubbed version, it will ruin the vibe…

Movie recommendations - Only movies worth watching
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Gripping and historically accurate.
celr8 January 2013
I was fascinated and totally on the edge of my seat for this one. Despite flaws in the production and irrelevant scenes involving one of the GIGN member's wife and little daughter, included obviously for the sake of emotional pull, this film is an accurate reenactment of the Air France hijacking of 1994 and subsequent raid to free the hostages. This film is a stark reminder why we have to endure airport security and how crazy these Muslim religious fanatics are.

The movie had a made-for-TV quality and could have done with higher production values; perhaps the budget was limited. The version I saw had dubbed voices which made the acting seem worse than it really was. I think it would be a lot better in French with subtitles. A lot of the technical details of the planning of the raid were just not explained, no doubt the film makers were more interested in dramatic effect. But the fact that it was an accurate reenactment of real events made these flaws appear minor and the events more gripping.

At one point the French Government tries to appease the Terrorists by giving them a large sum of money without any hint or assurance that the hostages would be released. I said to myself, "Did that really happen? I mean, could they be that dumb?" Those leery of French politics will just have to groan and say "Not again!" But then at the time they didn't have the lessons of 9/11 to inform them.

All in all I was immersed in this film and was quite willing to overlook its minor flaws in light of the important lessons it teaches. Historical accuracy counts for a lot in this kind of drama.
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kosmasp4 March 2012
Every nation has their special police/squad team. So do the french as you can see in this movie that is based on a real event that occurred in 1994. Something is going down (no pun intended), which the french police tries to stop. Of course this can be eerie, especially because you will think of another event that happened a few years later elsewhere. While no real connection is made, you can sort of feel it.

What makes this stick out, is the fact, that there are quite a few good action set pieces and a real character development amongst our characters. While I haven't checked upon how close this is to what happened originally, I can tell you that this is tension filled stuff indeed.
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Riveting from start to finish, by way of 'United 93's' faux-verite style that conveys keenly the immediacy and tension of the real-life events
moviexclusive7 August 2011
French director Julien Leclercq's sophomore feature is a dramatization of the events of Christmas Day, 1994, when a group of four heavily armed men from the Algerian Armed Islamic Group hijack an Air France flight bound for Paris. The comparisons with Paul Greengrass' 'United 93' are inevitable- besides the fact that both concern themselves with the hijacking of a commercial plane by Muslim extremists, Leclercq also employs the same hand-held, faux-verite style that Greengrass used to convey the urgency and immediacy of the unfolding events.

For the most part, Leclercq succeeds in creating a gripping chronological account of the events leading up to the French GIGN's (the elite counter-terrorism paramilitary unit of the French National Gendarmerie) storming of the plane stranded on a runway in Marseille airport where it had stopped to refuel. Still, his film lacks the intensity and emotional muscle of 'United 93', which is perhaps also a consequence of the more drawn-out nature of the incident (two days compared to United's two hours) which it portrays.

Leclercq, who co-wrote the screenplay with Simon Moutairou, chooses to tell the story from three parallel lines. Thierry (Vincent Elbaz) is one of the squad leaders of the GIGN, and the film's opening minutes attempt to contrast the harrowing nature of his daily work with the calming father figure he tries to be at home to his baby girl. On the other side of the barrel is Yahia (Aymen Saidi), the leader of the terrorist group who finds justification (however misguided) for his actions through fervent and frequent prayer. There's also Carole (Melanie Bernier), a French Interior Ministry staffer who finds it an uphill task to prove to her condescending male colleagues that the hijackers are in fact on a suicide mission.

The choice of these three perspectives is interesting, especially the contrast between Thierry and Yahia. Leclercq draws similarities between the two, despite their relative sides in the impending battle. A poignant sequence where Yahia's mother meets him face-to-face to convince him to surrender affirms that Yahia is, like Thierry, a family man. Just like Thierry too, Yahia finds himself the rallying figure for his men, the symbol they look to for strength amidst their fears and anxieties for the task in front of them. Carole, on the other hand, portrays the authorities' unpreparedness in dealing with the threat of Muslim extremism, much of the dithering on the part of the French probably manifested in the same way by the American authorities when 9/11 hit.

The fact that these three story lines unfold almost independently of each other means that there is less screen time for each of the characters- but Elbaz, Saidi and Bernier perform admirably in lifting their characters beyond caricature. In particular, Saidi is surprisingly effective as the determined terrorist leader who nonetheless is not without shades of humanity and concomitant uncertainties about his course of action. Bernier also convinces as the bold and resolute junior staffer willing to take risks to circumvent layers in Government authority.

Together, the well-chosen cast hold your attention until the final 20 minutes where the action kicks in proper. There will certainly be detractors who will find fault with Leclercq's choice to shoot most of the action in close-ups, as it also means that it is sometimes difficult to follow the swiftly unfolding action. Nonetheless, this climactic showdown is no less heart-thumping, and perhaps it is even more so because Leclercq conveys it through the eyes of those thrust into the highly charged situation (think of it as a first-person shooter experience).

And indeed, even if Leclercq was clearly influenced by Greengrass' method, there's no denying that he has utilised it effectively to retell a similarly harrowing real-life drama with style and verve. There is a raw energy to his technique of hand-held, documentary-style shots, and the intertwining of the dramatized events with real-life footage enhances the highly-fraught tension-filled situation. This isn't your standard-issue action thriller, but one which reminds us of the clear and present real-life danger present in our world out there, as well as the true heroes who put their lives on the line for those of others.

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In the pure Paul Greengrass style
searchanddestroy-19 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
First, I was afraid before seeing this film. I was afraid of an American way of filming and showing the characters. See the topic: Four muslims fanatics take an airplane as hostage on a big airport. I was afraid of the clichés such as good policemen vs bad, nasty Arabs, terrorists. And I was damn wrong. What a good surprise. While watching it, I thought of Paul Greengrass' masterpiece: UNITED 93, where the terrorists and their opponents are very well described, in a way where you can make your own opinion. No useless pyrotechnics here, no over explosions, nor over talking. Just the real, authentic, genuine needed action packed sequences, breathtaking ones, I can assure you. All characters, on both sides, are convincing in this story based on actual facts.

The young film maker, Julien Leclercq, is very promising.
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A documentary on the subject would be a better watch. Poor.
axlrhodes11 September 2012
L'assaut is a French film based on the true events that occurred in 1994 when Air France Flight 8969 was hijacked by the 'Armed Islamic Group' at Algiers with the supposed intention of crashing in Paris. What should be a gripping and emotionally charged film plays more like a ploddingly dull TV drama. Attempts to breathe life into the central character 'Thierry', the leader of a special ops team assigned to the case, come off as more token than genuine as we're served a brief back-story and glimpse into his troubled world which includes an unhappy wife and a cute toddler who frequently asks where Daddy is. With a tight running time of just 87mins, the film doesn't waste any time getting to the actual hijacking, but once there seems to wander off on cul-de-sac sub- plots while showing scenes including characters we're not terribly interested in or invited to get to know. Considering the hostages endured a two-day ordeal at the hands of the hijackers, the film spends very little time exploring the mood on the plane in favour of amping up the testosterone for a criminally underwhelming climax. The inclusion of actual news footage of the real life events adds a sense of genuine interest but only to the point whereby you wish you were watching a documentary about the situation as opposed to a half baked dramatisation of it. Aesthetically, the film has a washed out look where colours are all but drained to black and white which in a better film might have some effect, but here it just seems to mirror how flat the screenplay is. Given that the films content is so flawed, the choice to shoot in the same shaky-cam documentary style as Paul Greengrass' United '93 inevitably draws unfavourable comparisons. While in the real world these dramatic events were to foreshadow the tragedy of 9/11, as a piece of film, this telling of those events lives deep in the shadow of United '93.
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A true story well worth knowing about
Red-Barracuda28 September 2016
This French film is notable for mixing its action-thriller narrative around an actual true event. In 1994 an Islamist terrorist group called the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) hijacked a plane travelling from Algeria to Paris, it had to land in Marseilles to refuel and it was here that the French special forces - the GIGN – executed an assault. It is later learned that the objective of the terrorists was to fly the aeroplane into the Eiffel Tower, so the parallels to the later world changing September 11th attacks on the USA are unmistakable. This feels almost a dry run that was thwarted.

The story is presented from three different perspectives – from the point-of-view of the terrorists, through the eyes of a special forces man and via the experiences of a Ministry of the Interior employee. In this way this docudrama gives a wide overview of the events that happened over those dramatic two days. Having said that, the characterisations are fairly minimal and the approach taken is pretty lean overall, with little included which isn't absolutely necessary. An exception to this is probably the inclusion of the material about the wife and young daughter of the special forces guy; I guess this was intended to humanise him and give the whole story a domestic perspective which more people could directly empathise with.

Stylistically, this one has been presented visually in quite an unusual way. Almost all colour has been drained from the screen, with the exception of a few instances, meaning that this is in effect in black and white with a few moments of washed out colour. It is a look which gives off a very downbeat feel to proceedings. Later on real TV footage of the news coverage is spliced into the flow in a seamless manner, this works well in adding to the authenticity. It could perhaps be said that too little emphasis is ultimately given to the assault itself, with an almost slightly rushed feel to the final proceedings. But all-in-all this is a very good thriller based around a true story which has been overshadowed by events that have occurred since, so it is pertinent that this film is out there reminding us of the near miss of a disaster of massive proportions which was averted mainly by the bravery and the actions of the French special forces.
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Brilliant film ruined by dubbing
patrick-705-5599966 June 2013
I'm not going to add the reviews others here have posted as they cover all the bases much better than I could.

I watched this film because my son is/was mad about the GIGN. I went to the trouble of kitting him out for Halloween only for 95% of the people who saw him ask if he was SWAT. I've done a considerable amount of research into GIGN and was fortunate to get a GIGN poster signed to my son by a ex member.

The costumes and equipment used for the film was very well done, especially the use of revolvers over semi auto pistols.

What I will say is that I thought it was a brilliant movie ruined by being dubbed in English. If the dubbed version was done by French voice actors in English it would have been fine but the American accents got on my nerves after about 5 minutes. I would much rather have had subtitles and try to follow along with my rusty French.
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Great Mix of Action & Drama
shoobe01-15 June 2013
As much as I hate to discuss technical or format details, do not watch this with dubbing. The dubbing is so bad that it's a different movie in many ways.

For anyone who thinks something is unlikely, this happened. And this is about as historically accurate as a theatrically-released movie is going to get. I am not sure about the political parts, but it seems to be based on the reports of the terrorist actions and the assault. Footage shown on TVs during the movie is real.

I thought all in all it was very well done (no evidence of low-budget, so no idea what those reviewer's complaints are) combination of action and drama. It's got a rather good pace, with something happening every few minutes. Sometimes it's just political drama, sometimes it's spycraft like stuff, sometimes its preparing for or executing the assault.

8 of 10 for a slightly too-weepy wife. Realistic support system, going to hang out with the other GIGN members, and wives, but I'd like more explanation why she is so incapable of handling what her husband does for a living.
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Just as effective as 'United 93'.
The_Film_Cricket16 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
t is a little difficult to watch a film like L'Assault and not feel a knot in your stomach. Here is a film about the 1994 Christmas hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 by Middle Eastern terrorist in an attempt (French Intelligence said) to take over the plane and fly it into The Eiffel Tower. Their plan was thwarted by deliberate delays by Air Traffic Control that allowed the GIGA (the French equivalent of the S.W.A.T. team) to move in. The knot in our stomachs come from the fact that this is such a current and all-too-real situation that plays in our minds a decade after the events of September 11th. Even if you know how these events played out, the tension that the film creates is present and very effective.

Shot in bleached-out colors with a hand-held camera, French director Julien Leclercq keeps his film spare on personal details. He walks a very fine line between sticking to the facts and turning the material into an action picture. He mixes two elements very well, so that the material never feels overblown or exploitive. He knows very well how to draw tension from his viewer. The opening scenes are the most effective as we watch the terrorists preparing for their mission, praying, gathering their weapons and their explosives, and trying to keep their minds on their task. We follow the terrorists all the way from their meeting point to the plane where they pose as agents before being discovered by one very observant passenger. That's when all Hell breaks loose.

We've seen those scenes before with all the shouting, threats, demands and cowering passengers, but what makes the scene work is that there is real fear coming from the terrorists themselves. Leclercq's camera often gets very close to their eyes so that we can see that while they are focused on their task, they are still scared out of their minds. The focal point on the terrorist side rests with an angry young fellow named Yahia (Aymen Saïdi), the leader whose anger and frustration at not getting what he wants (there's a long bit of business about the fact that the plane can't take off because no one will move the stairs) makes him effective and very scary. One thing that I didn't expect was a heart-wrenching development late in the film when someone very close to him begs him to reconsider this whole terrorist plot. Films like this rarely give the terrorist a human dimension.

Parallel to the scenes of the terrorist plot is another story, that of a GIGA member named Thierry (Vincent Elbaz) whose wife is terrified when he goes out on a job. We don't get to know him or his family in great detail, but their story plays as an emotional center to what is going on from the side of the French. We know all we need to know. He's on the job. She's afraid for him. We don't need much more exposition than that. That's the most effective element of the film. It plays out in reality without slowing down for character development. You don't need it. All we need are the facts at hand. This element of the film is smart on the part of the director because since we know how the story concludes, Thierry's story adds a suspenseful, and unexpected element.

The movie has a slow build-up to the final assault by the GIGA and, unlike most action pictures, earns its ending. Leclercq does a very good job of staging the action scenes in a confined space with no heroics in sight. This works especially well if you don't already know how it turned out. What he has for us at the end is quite unexpected.

L'Assault is, I'm afraid, is going to inevitably draw comparison to Paul Greengrass' United 93. His was the better film - I chose it as my favorite film of 2006. It works more efficiently because of its spareness and because of our heavy emotional investment in the events of September 11th. I don't know as much about the events in L'Assault. That doesn't make them any less significant, but it makes the emotional weight just a little lighter. Comparing the two is really not fair anyway. The success of United 93 lay in its cold, straight-ahead vision. L'Assault is a little more cinematic and develops characters, both good and bad just enough so that we are invested in what is happening because they are people that we understand a little bit about. We know the events that took place. We know how they turned out. What is frightening is that even when the terrorists fail, we know with dread, that they'll be back.
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"Lou the wolf is waiting for his mum,but he doesn't like waiting."
morrison-dylan-fan7 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Getting set to order Leos Carax's colourful The Lovers on the Bridge,I got an "Amazon Uk recommends" that actually looked like a good suggestion!,thanks to it having a pretty confrontational cover,which led to me getting ready to go on the assault.

The plot-

France/ Algeria:1994:

With Algeria being in the middle of a civil war,plane travel from France to Algeria was being run on a limited, volunteered basis. Wanting terrorists to be freed from prison,four men dressed up as Air Algérie staff storm the plane.Before anyone can uncover their true identities the four men take over the plane,and announce that they are part of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Stating their demands,GIA reveal that their main goal is for the plane to fly to Paris with them in control. Fully aware over the severity of the situation,the government decide to bring in the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) to stop the terrorists from succeeding in their plan.

View on the film:

Despite the cover giving the title an Action movie book cover,co- writer/(along with Simon Moutairou) director Julien Leclercq & cinematographer Thierry Pouget largely go for something much more cerebral,as shaking camera shots go up and down the plane gathering the nail-biting fear and terror inhabiting each of the seats. Surprisingly going for over-stylised slo-mo during the fight scenes, Leclercq makes this a flaw that is easy to forgive,by keeping the camera firmly held during the incredible planning that the government and the GIGN put into taking on the GIA.

Based on survivors of the attack Roland Môntins and Gilles Cauture's own book,the screenplay by Moutairou and Leclercq brilliantly avoid exposition to instead bask the viewer in the agonising amount of time (3 days) that passes during the operation, with puzzled board meetings with the government and the extensive, specific training that GIGN take part in keeping the nail-biting atmosphere bubbling away. Spending an equal amount of time with the government forces and GIA,the writers do very well at drawing a clear,distinctive outline for everyone,as the country witnesses an assault on its most valued beliefs.
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Should have been much better
TdSmth519 December 2015
The Assault is a fairly faithful recounting of the hijacking of Air France flight 8969 by Algerian Muslim terrorists in 1994. The story is told from three perspectives--the events on the plane, the leader of the French SWAT team, and some French politicians.

Four terrorists board the plane disguised as Algerian authorities out the check passports of the passengers. Once someone notices their weapons and grenades, they have to take over at that point. They aim to fly to Paris and hope to have two detained terrorists released. However because a stair truck is still attached the plane, the plane can't depart. The Algerian authorities pretty much refuse to deal with the terrorists at all. Once they kill a French citizen, the French government demands the plane be allowed to depart, which it does, but to Marseilles and not to Paris due to lack of fuel.

We meet also the SWAT leader who's married and has a young daughter that hasn't really bonded with him yet. The woman seems to have a bad feeling about things. While he realizes that the situation with the plane isn't favorable and that there will be casualties yet he demands to be the first to enter the plane. We're not sure if he's depressed or what.

Meanwhile the French government is on full alert and some little girl working at some ministry meets the main bad Algerian terrorist who's in Paris. She offers him money to call off the hijacking, but refuses and takes the money anyway. She concludes that the terrorists will use the plane as a weapon and crash it into a French landmark. At some point in front of major authorities for some reason she just grabs the microphone and starts dictating when SWAT is to act.

Once the plane is in Marseilles the order is given to assault the plane. This is around 1:15 into the movie. Our leader is indeed the first one in and the only one tasked with going after the terrorists who are all in the cockpit with the 3 pilots. All the other dozen of SWAT are busy helping the passengers escape.

For no good reason the entire movie is filmed in a notch before black and white. There isn't a whole lot of dialogue and things are fairly slow for the most part. But given the events portrayed you do connect with the movie. You just can't help wishing it had been more thrilling and exciting.
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terrible movie with bad screenplay, directing and acting
rightwingisevil19 June 2012
one of the worst ever seen so far about hijacking a passenger plane. the screenplay is badly enough to put several female characters in it, yet the wife of the french special force member with their daughter, the woman who works for the french emergency management authorities, the female passenger sitting next to her parents, are totally unnecessary casting. the scenes about how the french government handling such situation are also very laughable. those four hijackers also acted so lame and so stupid. the most ridiculous plot is how those 4 hijackers could so easily get on board without any reason to justify their success. the scene about the stupid french woman who works for the government trying to bribe the terrorist leader so naively is also a big laugh. there are so many useless and meaningless scenes in this movie dragging out the whole time just like the airplane on the tarmac. the final assault is also like a child play, so laughable and and so lame. showing the wife crying while watching the rescue progress is also so laughably lame and totally unnecessary. this is one of the worst films in such genre and it should not be put into production in the first place. a total waste of money and time of yours and mine.
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Poor rendition, shoot the legend please
vostf19 January 2015
Based on a true story: this means you have to cheat to tell an effective story, but cheat brilliantly, remodelling the whole story, not miserably adding and subtracting minor plot elements. If you want to be faithful to the real events, do a documentary. This would have been much more interesting to understand the whole thing.

L'Assaut jumps straight ahead on land-mines: picking a couple of characters that are not heroes, but only good people trying to do their job best in a more or less coordinated manner. GIGN (SWAT) officer Thierry is not interesting beyond his training and his commitment to save live. Adding a heavy subplot about lethal risks Vs. family life is ludicrous at best, but mostly plain boring. As are the rest of the nice guys: what with all the intercut between GIGN team, crisis management meetings that look no more tense than a random corporation board meeting, and subplots to fill in the void before the main action, you have a very cheap rendition of a real-life suspenseful event.

The terrorists come out the best characters in the whole movie, and the group leader is the only fine piece of acting at all. Real facts somewhat distract from the real tension building inside the plane (hijacking lasted a couple of days) instead of building up suspense.

The stupid multiplicity of viewpoints, the sprinkling of facts instead of a tense storyline simply makes this movie a very lame one. The good people involved in the real hijacking really deserved a much better homage.
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Sox the fox threw some rocks
nogodnomasters18 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is the story on how France in 1994 was able to avoid their "9-11" tragedy. Unfortunately the lessons learned from this incident didn't prevent our 9-11 as some critics have claimed it should have done. This story is told from 3 points of view. One is from the action on the plane itself in the runway in Algeria. The second is told from the story of Thierry (Vincent Elbaz) the French GIG (SWAT team) leader. The third and most important is the story of Carole (Mélanie Bernier) an assistant in the foreign minister's office. She was the one who realized this was really a suicide mission and there was no negotiating with the GIA terrorist group. She oversteps her authority and steps on a few toes in order to prevent a take off. I believe her role was a bit of a dramatization, but it made the film watchable as we end up with a woman, who is given no credit, saving Paris from burning.

The story was good paced drama-thriller. The voice overs were no better than 1960 Italian film voice overs and has been an on going problem for every French film I have seen in the past few year. I know there are people who can do better voice overs.

Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity.
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