For “The Assault”, the story of the intervention of the GIGN to free the hostages of Air France flight 8969 in 1994, Vincent Elbaz required himself to intense physical training, coupled with commando courses with GIGN instructors. A necessary preparation to give the film its advanced realism, and also to pay tribute to the real policemen who intervened that day.
The Assaulta tense thriller for a famous hostage situation
In 2011, Julien Leclercq presented his second feature film, The Assault. This detective thriller is about remarkable realism the assault of the GIGN to put an end to Air France flight 8969 hostage-taking in December 1994, on the tarmac of Marignane airport. An event at the time broadcast live on television, and which stunned the whole world.
To make his film and tell the story of Thierry Prungnaud (Vincent Elbaz) and Denis Favier (Grégori Derangère), the two men who lead the GIGN group to free the hostages, Julien Leclercq wanted to stick as close as possible to reality . This is why, in particular, the sequence of the intervention of The Assault takes place in real time, in an attempt to capture this critical moment as authentically as possible. A necessity to make the film immersive in the eyes of the spectators, and also to honor the gendarmes, who intervened almost “blindly” to free the passengers from the plane.
For Vincent Elbaz, this involved very intense physical preparation with the forces of the elite group of the National Gendarmerie.
Vincent Elbaz: “We carried out shooting exercises and commando courses”
To embody Chief Warrant Officer Thierry Prungnaud, real hero of the assault – he neutralizes 3 of the 4 hostage takers but is wounded by 7 bullets and by the explosion of a grenade -, Julien Leclercq and Vincent Elbaz took things very seriously. During the promotion of the film, Julien Leclercq explained about the preparation of his actor :
After meeting men from the GIGN, he understood that he needed very high-level sports training to be credible and so he trained tirelessly with a coach for six months.
An already significant physical preparation, which had to be coupled with training in bare-handed combat and firearms. Not counting the very specific exercises specific to the GIGN. The making-of below details it.
Vincent Elbaz then said:
We were lucky to be trained by the men of the GIGN themselves. Before getting down to the purely physical training, we started by sitting around a table, where our instructors showed us archive images that they commented on. They explained to us their strategy, their approach to the event, and the way in which they managed the Marignane crisis. Subsequently, we carried out practical shooting exercises and commando courses.
As we can see in the making-of, Vincent Elbaz appears several times in full preparation for his role. The supervision of the GIGN was not limited to this preparation. It has in fact extended to the entire production of The Assaultsince a technical adviser was there permanently to ensure that the facts and gestures reproduced were very realistic. As commander Denis Favier thus explains, there is no question that the GIGN is involved if the film is to give an erroneous approximate image of their trades…