Review: The Assault – L’assaut (2010)

The Assault – L’assaut (2010)

Directed by: Julien Leclercq | 95 minutes | action, thriller | Actors: Vincent Elbaz, Grégori Derangère, Mélanie Bernier, Philippe Bas, Aymen Saïdi, Marie Guillard, Antoine Basler, Fatima Adoum, Hugo Becker, Hugues Martel, Hervé Dubourjal, François Lescurat, Abdelhafid Metalsi, Jean-Philippe Puymartin, David Sevier, Marc Robert, Samira Lachhab, Samira Sedira, Lounès Tazairt, Chems Dahmani

The 232 people aboard Air France Flight 8969, who planned to fly from Algiers to Paris Charles de Gaulle on December 24, 1994, will always remember that one horrific event that turned their lives upside down around the holidays. At least those who can still tell it. The Airbus they were in was hijacked by four members of the Groupe Islamique Armée (GIA), Muslim fundamentalists who saw themselves as ‘soldiers of mercy’ and aimed to liberate their brothers in the name of Allah and to hit their opponents where it is possible. hurts the most. Disguised as Algerian police officers, they had boarded, ostensibly to check passports. They soon revealed their true nature and, armed with AK-47s and Uzis, took control of the plane. The hijackers demanded full cooperation from the 220 passengers and the 12 crew members, otherwise they would not be responsible for the consequences. Their goal was to head straight for the Eiffel Tower with a full tank of fuel and wreak havoc in Paris.

French director Julien Leclercq filmed the events of Christmas 1994 under the title ‘The Assault’ (‘L’Assaut’, 2010). He looks at the hijacking from different perspectives. The focus is particularly on Thierry (Vincent Elbaz), a member of the GIGN, the counter-terrorism unit of the French Gendarmerie, who has a wife (Marie Guillard) and a young daughter at home who are terrified when he is sent to to stop the hijackers. His boss, commander Denis Favier (Grégori Dérangère) is also closely followed. In addition, the political side of the story is also discussed, with the focus being on the young embassy employee Carole (Mélanie Bernier), who approaches the matter not so much from her mind, but more from her intuition. Which doesn’t always work out well though. Finally, of course, there are the hijackers themselves, led by Abdul Abdullah Yahia (Aymen Saidi). Using multiple perspectives makes it difficult to actually get through to the characters and discover their motivations. Leclercq actually succeeds in not transcending any storyline in the superficiality. Unfortunately, the hijackers in particular remain very one-sided.

‘The Assault’ presents itself as a realistic depiction of what really happened around Christmas 1994. The film broadly follows the facts, although it should be noted that sometimes something is left out, which the actions of the characters do not. always makes sense. The storylines outside the plane are (largely) made up and lack all persuasiveness. Carole seeking out a notorious top terrorist on her own… it’s not exactly believable. Leclercq should have concentrated solely on the events in the plane. Because even though that aspect of the film is not flawlessly worked out (for example, an entire intermediate phase is skipped during the attack by the GIGN troops), the scenes are filmed quite oppressively, which makes it exciting. Leclercq uses, probably to emphasize the realistic quality of the story, gray filters and a camera that is quite agile. As we saw in ‘United 93’ (2006), a film that is related to this one in several respects, but superior to it on every level. Because where Paul Greengrass kept his audience on the edge of his seat for an hour and a half, Julien Leclercq manages that for no more than fifteen minutes.

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