Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s slickly entertaining Israeli revenge thriller arrives on our shores with a best-of-the-year imprimatur from Quentin Tarantino. You can see why from the opening sequence, a seemingly innocent game of hide-and-seek (shot in luxuriously hypnotic slo-mo) that climaxes with the kidnapping and murder of a young girl. Rugged cop Micki (Lior Ashkenazi) thinks the culprit is nerdy schoolteacher Dror (Rotem Keinan) and pursues him ruthlessly. The child’s imposing father, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), also has his sights set on this alleged pedophile, though his interrogative methods, as he freely admits, are more maniacal.
It’s only a short time before these three men end up in an isolated house where Dror is subjected to several of the horrible tortures he is supposed to have inflicted on his victims. Fingers are broken, toenails are ripped off, and there’s some nasty business involving a blowtorch and a rusty saw. Keshales and Papushado attempt to inject some pointed political commentary about the Israel-Palestine conflict by situating the remote main locale next to an Arab village. But mostly, Big Bad Wolves wallows in blood-spattering bursts of gore and black-comic silliness, as in a scene in which the baking of a doped-up cake is scored to Buddy Holly’s “Everyday.” The movie is never less than involving, but rarely amounts to more than a third-generation grindhouse knockoff.
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