2010 Running time: 113 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Decades after three Israeli Mossad agents were hailed as heroes following the execution of a Nazi war criminal in East Berlin, a man emerges in the Ukraine claiming to be their supposedly dead target. Although her spy days are long behind her, Rachel (Helen Mirren) is pressed into service to complete the operation. With Jessica Chastain as Rachel's younger self (alongside fellow agent Sam Worthington), this sinewy thriller flits between past and present through a minefield of mind games, secrets and suspense.

Director

  • John Madden

Cast

  • Helen Mirren

  • Ciarán Hinds

  • Sam Worthington

  • Jessica Chastain

  • Tom Wilkinson

Review

The Mounties may always get their man...but Mossad truss him up, bung him on a plane and fly him back to Israel to stand trial for war crimes. Just ask Adolf Eichmann.

Director John Madden's slickly enjoyable remake of Assaf Bernstein's 2007 movie follows an Israeli snatch squad and - as well as detailing their operational know-how - dissects Munich-style the fractured dynamic of the cell.

Three crack Israeli Nazi hunters are placed in Communist-controlled, mid-1960s East Berlin with the aim of capturing a German war criminal and spiriting him back to Israel, Eichmann-style, to face his accusers.

The target is Dieter Vogel (Quantum of Solace's Jesper Christensen), the so-called Surgeon of Birkenau, a Nazi doctor notorious for his medical experiments in Auschwitz but now quietly working in a city hospital.

The snatch goes without a hitch with Jessica Chastain's Rachel posing as a wannabe mother who injects Vogel with a sedative and Mossad muscle Sam Worthington and Marton Czokas bundling him into the back of stolen ambulance.

However, the exfiltration is scuppered when Vogel wakes up and sounds the alarm and the snatch-squad have to keep him prisoner in their apartment while alternative exit routes are worked out.

Vogel, a chillingly manipulative monster, senses that Jessica is pregnant and sets to work undermining her true love (Worthington) and pitting him against the father, Czokas' emotionally void Mossad operative.

It should all end when Rachel shoots him dead as Vogel tries to escape but - despite being venerated as heroes in Israel on their return - there's something not quite right.

This serpentine thriller chillingly evokes Cold War Berlin (it was actually filmed in Budapest) and cleverly balances the tension of the kidnap with the strained relationships between the three driven operatives.

Mirren ably plays Rachel thirty years down the line when a carefully-kept secret threatens to break open and she's obliged to return to the field.

It's this final reel that's probably the weakest stretch of the film - heavyweight acting duo Mirren and Tom Wilkinson end up with a flimsy plot strand that dissipates the momentum of the Berlin segment.

Nevertheless, it's a provocative, engaging tale utilising clever use of extended flashback and showcasing an intriguing twist.

Tim Evans

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