Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Big Bad Wolves

This mesmerizing revenge thriller is filled with surprising plot twists and generous doses of mordant humor.

Jan 16, 2014

-By Frank Scheck


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1392898-Big_Bad_Wolves_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A driven cop and a revenge-seeking father team up to deliver vigilante justice to an alleged child-killer in Big Bad Wolves, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s grippingly suspenseful film. Featuring mind-bending plot twists and generous doses of mordant humor, this fiendishly clever Israeli thriller succeeds brilliantly on its own terms while instantly qualifying for a Hollywood remake.

After a little girl goes missing in the woods and is later found dead with her head missing and her underwear pulled down to her ankles, renegade cop Miki (Lior Ashkenazi) enlists two thugs to beat up his principal suspect for a series of related killings, seemingly mild-mannered schoolteacher Dror (Rotem Keinan). The violent mayhem is captured by an interloper’s cellphone camera, with the video going viral on the Internet. Officially suspended but subtly encouraged to keep up with the case by his commander, Miki continues to harass and stalk Dror, even going so far as to Taser the hapless suspect’s small dog. But his activities are suddenly interrupted by the murder victim’s middle-aged father Gidi (Tzahi Grad), who overcomes both men and brings them to the basement of the remote new house he’s purchased just for the occasion.

Desperately wanting to know the location of his daughter’s severed head, Gidi brutally tortures Dror with Miki’s tacit approval. But when things threaten to get out of hand and Miki begins having second thoughts, he finds himself bound and gagged as well. The tense situation becomes even more complicated with the unexpected arrival of Gidi’s elderly father (Dov Glickman), who comes bearing chicken soup only to wind up becoming involved in the nefarious goings-on.

The filmmakers slowly but surely ratchet up the tension in brilliantly subtle fashion, delivering both a haunting meditation on the morality and efficacy of torture—the suspect’s guilt is not established, which only increases the moral ambiguity—and enough violent shocks to please genre fans. The plot’s intricate twists and turns are consistently surprising, as are the wonderfully droll touches of humor sprinkled into the proceedings.

Examples of the latter include the viciously revengeful Gidi reduced to near-whimpers during a phone call from his guilt-trip-delivering Jewish mother; his seemingly gentle father suddenly displaying unexpected personality facets; and the separate encounters that Gidi and Miki have with a man on horseback which provide a subtle commentary on the region’s simmering Arab-Jewish tensions.

Featuring superb performances by the principal actors, Big Bad Wolves is mesmerizing from start to finish, including a haunting final image that you’ll find impossible to forget.

The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Big Bad Wolves

This mesmerizing revenge thriller is filled with surprising plot twists and generous doses of mordant humor.

Jan 16, 2014

-By Frank Scheck


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1392898-Big_Bad_Wolves_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A driven cop and a revenge-seeking father team up to deliver vigilante justice to an alleged child-killer in Big Bad Wolves, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s grippingly suspenseful film. Featuring mind-bending plot twists and generous doses of mordant humor, this fiendishly clever Israeli thriller succeeds brilliantly on its own terms while instantly qualifying for a Hollywood remake.

After a little girl goes missing in the woods and is later found dead with her head missing and her underwear pulled down to her ankles, renegade cop Miki (Lior Ashkenazi) enlists two thugs to beat up his principal suspect for a series of related killings, seemingly mild-mannered schoolteacher Dror (Rotem Keinan). The violent mayhem is captured by an interloper’s cellphone camera, with the video going viral on the Internet. Officially suspended but subtly encouraged to keep up with the case by his commander, Miki continues to harass and stalk Dror, even going so far as to Taser the hapless suspect’s small dog. But his activities are suddenly interrupted by the murder victim’s middle-aged father Gidi (Tzahi Grad), who overcomes both men and brings them to the basement of the remote new house he’s purchased just for the occasion.

Desperately wanting to know the location of his daughter’s severed head, Gidi brutally tortures Dror with Miki’s tacit approval. But when things threaten to get out of hand and Miki begins having second thoughts, he finds himself bound and gagged as well. The tense situation becomes even more complicated with the unexpected arrival of Gidi’s elderly father (Dov Glickman), who comes bearing chicken soup only to wind up becoming involved in the nefarious goings-on.

The filmmakers slowly but surely ratchet up the tension in brilliantly subtle fashion, delivering both a haunting meditation on the morality and efficacy of torture—the suspect’s guilt is not established, which only increases the moral ambiguity—and enough violent shocks to please genre fans. The plot’s intricate twists and turns are consistently surprising, as are the wonderfully droll touches of humor sprinkled into the proceedings.

Examples of the latter include the viciously revengeful Gidi reduced to near-whimpers during a phone call from his guilt-trip-delivering Jewish mother; his seemingly gentle father suddenly displaying unexpected personality facets; and the separate encounters that Gidi and Miki have with a man on horseback which provide a subtle commentary on the region’s simmering Arab-Jewish tensions.

Featuring superb performances by the principal actors, Big Bad Wolves is mesmerizing from start to finish, including a haunting final image that you’ll find impossible to forget.

The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

The Congress
Film Review: The Congress

Part live-action, part cornea-searing animation, this cinematic overload is ambitious but ultimately fatigues as it plays with the intriguing notion of a fading Hollywood star selling rights so her cyberspace avatar can rise to superstardom and stay forever young in virtual reality. Flashy animation and cynical stabs at celebrity culture and movie-studio finagling keep things lively for a while. More »

The Last of Robin Hood
Film Review: The Last of Robin Hood

Serviceable vehicle for a salacious story. More »

Last Weekend
Film Review: Last Weekend

A sort of modern Chekhovian study of family tensions over a country weekend, this indie drama is very pretty to look at and at times disarming, but needed more punch. More »

The Notebook
Film Review: The Notebook

An aloof adaptation of Agota Kristof's best-seller that's technically impressive but precludes audience identification. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here