DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

BIG BAD WOLVES (director/writer: Aharon Keshales/Navot Papushado cinematographer: Chilik Michaeli; editor: Avraham Pirchi; music: Moshe Edery; cast: Lior Ashkenazi (Micki), Rotem Keinan (Dror), Tzahi Grad (Gidi), Dov Glickman (Yoram), Menashe Noy (Rami), Dvir Benedek (Tsvika), Kais Nashif (Arab on a horse), Ami Weinberg (Principal Meir), Yuval Nadborany (Arik), Nati Kluger (Eti); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Chilik Michaeli/Avraham Pirchi/Tami Leon/Moshe Edery/Leon Edery; Magnolia Pictures; 2013-Israel-in Hebrew with English subtitles)

"A grisly off-beat moralistic Israeli thriller about a suspected serial rapist killer being tortured by a cop and the victim's father."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A grisly off-beat moralistic Israeli thriller about a suspected serial rapist killer being tortured by a cop and the victim's father, that's directed and written by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado ("Kalevet") with heavy dollops of sick humor.

After a game of  hide-and-seek, a little girl is missing. A rogue cop Micki (Lior Ashkenazi) investigates and gets an anonymous phone tip about a mild-mannered Bible Studies teacher Dror (Rotem Keinan) being a suspect and recruits two thugs to work him over to confess. The incident is captured on cellphone and goes viral on YouTube. Thereby Micki's boss (Dvir Benedek) bows to public pressure and temporarily suspends him though subtly encouraging him to investigate on his own. Also, because of the incident, the cops must release their only suspect. The murder victim’s middle-aged army veteran father Gidi (Tzahi Grad) tails the suspect, who lost his job because of parent opposition. The suspended cop also tails the suspect and tasers him, but is knocked cold by Gidi. The maniacal Gidi takes both the cop and the suspect to the secluded new house he rented in the outskirts of town, in an Arab neighborhood. In the basement, Gidi tortures the suspect to give up the location of the victim's severed head. The police previously found her decapitated body in the woods, tied to a chair and her panties pulled down. Micki is untied when he agrees to work with Gidi in torturing the suspect to get the information. When the pliers wielding Gidi snaps off all his fingers and is just warming up for more torture, the cop realizes things have gone too far and tries to stop any further torture. But Gidi draws his Glock and the cop gets tied-up. When Gidi’s elderly father (Dov Glickman) arrives with chicken noodle soup, ordered by Gidi's nagging mom, things begin to get more complicated and the tension builds.

I found everything contrived to fit an agenda: from the tension between a few crazed hateful Jews and a disarmingly sane Arab neighbor (Kais Nashifwhy) to being reminded how torture might be the worst and not the best way to question a suspect. Everything seems staged to get across the film-makers less than scintillating observation that compares violent criminals to violent cops. Though well-constructed, the unpleasant story takes its victim vigilantes to insane extremes just to make unneeded obvious points.

REVIEWED ON 12/1/2014       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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