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article imageReview: ‘Assault’ on home video

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 8, 2012 in Entertainment
In 1994, 277 people's plans to fly to Paris for Christmas were disrupted by the terrorist hi-jacking of their Air France jet. ‘The Assault’ is available on DVD February 7, 2012.
The Algerian War, which lasted eight years ending in 1962, produced a lot of animosity between the Algerians and the French that endured for long after the official fighting stopped. More than 30 years later, a terrorist attack on a passenger flight reminded everyone of the disdain that still existed between the countries. The Assault (L'assaut) chronicles the days of that hostage-taking.
In December 1994, France's SWAT team, the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN), received a call to prepare to confront a group of men aboard an Air France flight from Algiers to Paris. They were demanding the plane take-off and their comrades be freed. In the meantime, the government and its advisors tried to find ways to save the hostages without giving in to the terrorists' demands. The stand-off came to a head in Marseilles where the GIGN stormed the plane, rescued the remaining hostages and put down the gunmen.
There are four stories told simultaneously from the perspectives of different people affected by the attack: an expert on the Muslim faction that took over the plane; the GIGN lead operative; his concerned wife; and the terrorists on the aircraft. The narrative jumps back and forth between each of their viewpoints, which is jarring and sometimes briefly confusing.
The colour is drained from the picture, making it dull like a memory. Each perspective is also tinted differently, further distinguishing the scenes from each other. While the aspects presented are all important to the events that unfolded, it was the filmmakers' duty to find a less disjointed manner of conveying them. Instead, it's consistently disruptive to the narrative flow. This is a less than impressive follow-up to director Julien Leclercq feature debut, Chyrsalis.
The performances do not make much of an impact on the viewer with the actors simply and adequately fulfilling their roles. The most memorable is Mélanie Bernier, but this likely has more to do with the significance of her scenes as she speaks up during situations in which she's been told to remain quiet. Unfortunately the effectiveness of the actors is also undermined by the constant jumping between scenes.
While this event played a key role in French-Algerian relations, this fictional re-enactment is not an effective means of revisiting it.
Director: Julien Leclercq
Starring: Vincent Elbaz, Grégori Derangère and Mélanie Bernier
There are no special features. (Entertainment One)
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