- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/50
- Audio Codec: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: B (Region-Locked)
- Certification: 15
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: StudioCanal
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 6, 2012
- RRP: £19.99
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(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
In his second major film, The Assault (L’assaut), French filmmaker Julien Leclercq co-writes and directs a story based on the true events of the 1994 Christmastime highjacking of an Air France flight bound for Algiers by Algerian islamic fundamentalists. With his slick blend of docudrama, cinema verite and heavy use of steadicams, Leclercq manages to create a thrilling, gripping, intense, almost claustrophobic atmosphere and any other hyperbolic terms you care to throw at it. His style is so wonderfully put together that he almost manages to completely mask what is a terribly flawed screenplay.
Following the story of the highjacking from three different perspectives, that of the fundamentalists and over 200 hostages aboard the plane, low-level French government official Carole (Mélanie Bernier) who is tasked with negotiating with the terrorists, and one of the GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) officers (Vincent Elbazin ) who are assigned to launch an attack on the plane, The Assault suffers from a lack of cohesive storytelling and in-depth character development. Many of its characters seem to be there simply to take up space and plug holes in an otherwise poorly glued together script. The film really shines only when we are taken aboard the tight space of the Air France airplane and thrust into the anxious, docudrama mode, where, even there, we are offered up some characters as window dressing – a woman traveling with her parents, a French citizen gunned down by the terrorists – but no back story. Finally, at the end, as the GIGN make their inevitable and eponymous assault on the airplane, Leclercq cuts to a scene of the wife of the officer we have been following as she watches the operation unfold on television in tears. The idea that he felt the need to pluck at our heartstrings unnecessarily here is evidence that something is awry with The Assault.
The Assault was captured digitally on an Arri D-21 and comes to Blu-ray in a 1080i/50 AVC/MPEG-4 encodement from StudioCanal. The disc is region-locked to B, so this shouldn’t be an issue, but if you are purchasing outside of a Region B area, just be sure that your equipment can handle this frame rate properly. With that said, the image does look good, even though the artistic intent of the filmmakers certainly doesn’t allow this one to “pop” in anyway. It has a bit of a muted color palette and somewhat gritty, “enhanced” amount of video noise at times. That isn’t necessarily bad, as it sets the mood of the film nicely and also imparts some texture to the image. There’s a lot of detail and good contrast even though the image is mostly dark.
The French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack has big, extended low frequencies that really rattle the floorboards during gunshots and so forth. There’s spacious panning across the front and good, clean dialogue with lots of ambience in the surround channels. What I found lacking, however, was a really clear soundstage in those surround channels and any sort of directionality or use of distinct, discrete effects that would have kicked this soundtrack up a couple of notches.
Only the original trailer (1.85:1; 1080i/50; French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) is included on the disc.
The Definitive Word
A film with great visual style and so much potential, The Assault is hindered by its lackluster screenplay and, in some instances, less than top notch acting. Even through all of its faults, The Assault shows much promise for Julien Leclercq as a filmmaker to keep an eye on in the years to come.
Additional Screen Captures