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Bob Doto [Film Festival 04.27.11] France movie review trailer action

Year: 2011
Directors: Julien Leclerq
Writers: Simon Moutairou / Julien Leclercq,
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Bob Doto
Rating: 5.9 out of 10

Julien Leclercq's THE ASSAULT is a guy-drama ostensibly about a family-man caught between his loyalty to the French police force and his wife and daughter, using as its backdrop the events of December 1994 when members of the GIA (Armed Islamic Group) overtook an Air France flight in Algiers and kept two hundred passengers hostage. Family man is pudgy, but still in it to win it. The hijackers are at times conflicted, but ultimately brutal. The high-on-the-hill government is calculative and methodical. Aside from some fairly decent character development, (Yahia [Aymen Saidi] as the head of the GIA operation is believably tortured and acts from the gut), THE ASSAULT is ultimately a man-fest, complete with sentimental piano flourishes, dramatic avant-Bedouin soundscapes, and heaps and heaps and heaps of tug-at-the-heart-strings slow-motion cop scenes. It is entirely masculine, and relies heavily on guy-pleasing tropes such as sexy, but intelligent, but flawed women; "Let's do this" attitudes; uber-heroism; guns and ammo; one-pointed acts of heroic "selflessness;" and "I work to support my family" dilemmas.

Not that this should be a bad thing. Even though men have pretty much ruled the Earth for the past, I don't know, million years, exploring the male psyche is in some ways a novel concept. I would have loved this film had it attempted to unpack that male brain, but instead THE ASSAULT retells one of the newest-oldest stories in the book: courageous white men must save the world from cowardly brown men.

The gist of the plots go as follows:

Plot 1
Policeman is feeling his age. Policeman's wife is an emotional train wreck at all times and worrys about her husband and his work. Policeman feels bad about this.

Plot 2
Oh no! Crazy Muslims have decided to hijack a plane. Yahia must keep his men focused on the mission, and find a way to get the plane off the ground. Nothing spells "Filed Attempt" like a still plane that isn't flying.

Plot 3
The government, like most governments, wrings its hands as it figures out the best way to save face, save people, and save a few bucks. A strong-minded woman at the bottom of the totem poll must fight to have her voice heard. She also speaks Arabic. She is also sexy, and meant to come across as so.

Then everyone starts shooting everyone.

But, no matter how bleak you make the ending, no matter how many "good" Muslims you put on a "bad" Muslim-hijacked plane, this film screams patriotism from the top of the West-occupied minaret, and replicates every Fox News report on Islamic terrorism since Fox News got in the business of "fair and balanced' reporting. Some people actually think this film is a-political!

Let's take a closer look:

1. THE ASSAULT doesn't really like Muslims. We get no back story on the Muslim hijackers, and thus we must deduce that their reasoning for hijacking the plane is entirely religious psychosis. Despite a mention or two of wanting some political prisoners freed, the hijackers are fairly vacant and writhe in a sea of hatred. They also pray a lot, and THE ASSAULT gets as much play out of coupling recitations from the Qur'an with the hijackers killing people.

2. Brown people in this film are considered less important than white people. Take for example one of the most dramatic scenes in the film, when a French national is assassinated at the hands of the hijackers in a fit of rage. Of course, the hijackers had assassinated at least two other men in the same fashion previously. They just happened to be brown. But when the white dude is about to get iced...oh boy, cue up those violins! Everyone on the plane starts crying, and the dude barely had any lines! Who is this guy we are supposed to care about so much?

3. This film shamefully posits a culture war between the West and the East. I mean, am I reading too much into it when I notice that when the identities of the hijackers are finally listed aloud, the two police officers who respond are named Christian and JP? Now, anyone who has ever written a story knows the specificity with which we choose the names of our characters. I mean, really? A film about Muslim terrorists and the names of two of our heroes are Christian and JP (John Paul, anyone?)

Despite employing a few interesting cinematic touches (claustrophobic automatic weapon fight scenes, harsh blue lenses, and an almost Zen-like economic use of dialogue), THE ASSAULT is ultimately a fluff piece for the State, using distrust and outright hatred of Muslims as a vehicle for patriotic wanking. If you're a bro who just likes to see crazy Muslims getting what's coming to them, than by all means, go see, and enjoy, this film. For anyone else who has half a brain to know that international relations based on religious ideology are slightly more complicated than ... save ye olde pennies.

Have you seen Julien Leclercq's Chrysalis?

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Muslim hijackers killing people = religious psychosis + vacant sea of hatred + recitations from the Qur'an.

Brown people in this film are considered less important than white people = everyone on the plane starts crying.

Culture war = the war between West and the East.

High precision laser guided weapons + Apache gunship helicopter = a many Taliban's for price of one.


Michael (11 years ago) Reply

Me thinks the reviewer is infected with a extreme case of PC.


bad dog (11 years ago) Reply

Good review written for grownups who like good movies that tell real stories, as opposed to the usual dumb myths we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel superior to the scary brown people who make us crap our pants. Thanks, Bob.


hfgiii (11 years ago) Reply

It is always amusing to critique one set of cliches through with another collection of cliches


steve (11 years ago) Reply

poor review smothered by bafflingly irrelevant student-level political point scoring. Tedious.

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