L’assaut (2010) Directed by Julien Leclercq. With Vincent Elbaz.
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. 1.5/5