Special Forces (2011)


Forces spéciales (English: Special Forces) is a 2011 French war adventure film directed by Stéphane Rybojad and starring Diane Kruger, Djimon Hounsou, Denis Ménochet, Benoît Magimel, Mehdi Nebbou, and Tchéky Karyo.

Filmed on location in France, Djibouti, and Tajikistan, the film shows a group of elite French naval commandos on a desperate hostage rescue mission in the Afghanistan/Pakistan area.


Kabul-based French journalist Elsa Casanova (Diane Kruger) writes an article about warlord Zaief (Raz Degan) and names him “the butcher of Kabul”. Her informer Maina (Morjana Alaoui) warns her that Zaief is out for vengeance. Before she returns to Zaief, she bids farewell because she reckons to die by an honour killing. Elsa tries to hold her back but fails. Her friend Amen (Mehdi Nebbou) urges Elsa to leave the country, yet, agrees to help her try to save Maina. Zaief ambushes and captures Elsa and Amen. Amen asks Elsa to show no fear in front of Zaief. Still, she breaks down when their friend Salemani (Greg Fromentin) gets cruelly murdered in her presence.

Zaief publishes film material of Salemani’s gruesome death, which eventually reaches the French government. A small joint team of French Naval Commandos and 11th Parachute Brigade members gets entrusted with Elsa’s rescue. They find Zaief’s hideout in Pakistan and witness execution of Maina. When they leave the place with Elsa and Amen, a bullet hits their wireless set. Without means to contact their base, they cannot manage to be found and picked up.

In lack of any other solution, they are heading for the Khyber Pass in order to reach their base in Afghanistan on foot. In the mountains, they have another shoot-out with Zaief’s gunmen.

When the fugitives come across a village, Elsa asks for hospitality. While they enjoy themselves with the locals, Marius (Alain Alivon) is suddenly killed by a sniper, who is killed by the team’s own marksman Elias (Raphaël Personnaz). Later on, Zaief’s gunmen arrive, and Zaief himself kills Amen. When Victor is hit, they retreat into the mountains.

Elias is the second of the team to be killed while luring Zaief’s soldiers away. Victor, Kovax, Tic-Tac, Lucas, and Elsa soon run into a snowstorm, but Victor subsequently goes into shock and dies. Once again Zaief attacks, and Lucas is killed, Tic-Tac is injured and Kovax kills Zaief after he takes Elsa hostage.

They still have a long way ahead of themselves when they are surprised by a debris avalanche. Kovax saves Elsa and Tic-Tac but in the process breaks one of his legs. The two men persuade Elsa to leave them behind. Elsa, marked by severe exhaustion, scarcely reaches a road where she is rescued. She refuses to return to Paris and has herself taken out of her wheelchair by Admiral Guezennec (Tchéky Karyo) who carries her on his back to a helicopter. Together they find Kovax and Tic-Tac still alive.


  • Diane Kruger as Elsa Casanova.
  • Djimon Hounsou as Kovax.
  • Denis Menochet as Lucas.
  • Benoît Magimel as Tic-Tac.
  • Raphaël Personnaz as Elias.
  • Didier Flamand as Jacques Beauregard.
  • Mehdi Nebbou as Amen.
  • Morjana Alaoui as Maina.
  • Tchéky Karyo as Admiral Guezennec.
  • Alain Figlarz [fr] as Victor.
  • Alain Alivon as Marius.
  • Raz Degan as Zaief.


While filming the action scenes, the actors were overseen and advised by French naval special forces according to the press folder available on the official site. Moreover, one of their former chief instructors (Alain Alivon) played his own role.


The opening song in the movie when the troops are seen flying in choppers is E=MC2 by Big Audio Dynamite. The song played at Kovax’s birthday party is “Pick your God or Devil” by Robin Foster and Ndidi O.


Reception of the film has been mixed.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Stephane Rybojad.
  • Producer(s): Thierry Marro and Benoit Ponsaille.
  • Writer(s): Michael Cooper and Stephane Rybojad.
  • Music: Xavier Berthelot.
  • Cinematography: David Jankowski.
  • Editor(s): Erwan Pecher.
  • Production: Easy Company.
  • Distributor(s): StudioCanal.
  • Release Date: 02 November 2011 (France) and 12 March 2012 (UK).
  • Running Time: 109 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: France.
  • Language: French.

Video Link

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