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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Big Bad Wolves (2014)


Torture is so meaningless. Just get the killing over and done with!

Three different stories and characters come clashing together after a child is abducted, raped and brutally murdered. You know, happy stuff. On one hand, we have policeman Miki (Lior Ashkenazi) who is determined enough that he believes he found the main suspect in this case, although it’s clear that his police-chief doesn’t want him causing too much commotion; the other hand, we have the suspect in question, Dror (Rotem Keinan), a high school teacher that has a bit of a troubled-life with his own wife and kids, but still maintains the position that he didn’t do it, nor has any idea what anybody is accusing him of; and lastly, on the other hand, we have the father of the abducted, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), who knows what he wants to do as soon as he finds out who may be the main culprit in this grisly crime: Find him, kidnap him, torture him, get him to talk and once it’s all said and done with, kill him. Sounds like a good plan, and heck, it gets even better once Gidi and Miki decide to join forces on beating the truth out of Dror, but one thing leads to another and, well, let’s just say not everything goes as planned.

As you can probably tell from just reading that plot-line, that things aren’t so pretty with this. There’s a lot of torture, there’s a lot of blood, there’s a lot of tension and there’s also a lot of yelling. Which makes total sense as to why major nut-ball himself, Quentin Tarantino, would state this as being his favorite film of 2013, only to have it paraded around on each and every one of this movie’s advertisements. But where most of Tarantino’s violent-fests seem to have some sort of a point to all of the havoc and mayhem being caused, for some reason, Israeli writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado don’t really seem to be able to find that.

High school teacher with a troubled marriage = main suspect in any child-abduction case.

High school teacher with a troubled marriage = automatic suspect in any child-abduction case.

Instead, they seem a little too concerned with being able to balance out the comedy, the heart (or what’s there of it) and the queasy violence, in a way that doesn’t seem too tonally-jarring when it goes from one end to another. Which is fine, considering that both seem talented enough to pull it off and have it be entertaining, as well as unpredictable, for the longest time. Because truly, it is hard to show some guy getting his chest burnt, only to then follow it up with a joke about how it makes the man feel as if he wants to eat meat again. It’s a bit odd, but it actually works and had me enjoying myself for quite some time.

Not just because I felt like this was going to be one wild ride I’d truly never forget, but because I felt like it was going somewhere big, as if it was trying to teach us something new about the art, or idea of torture, and how it doesn’t really do much except add-on more excruciating pain than already necessary. And yeah, I guess the movie makes that point maybe once, or hell, maybe even twice, but not enough times, or in enough smart ways to make me feel like that was the first goal in the creator’s minds. Instead, it more so feels as if they just want to give us all the blood, violence, gore, torture and humor that they can throw at us, while making us feel like we’re going somewhere with all of this.

Which, once again, isn’t such a bad thing since the movie does it well at times, but it’s just not something that’s substantial enough to have me feel as if I’ll watch this over and over again, just to look for the small, complex subtleties that I missed-out on in the first-viewing.

You know, like a Quentin Tarantino flick. Then again, that’s a different discussion, for a different day, folks.

Where this film really succeeds, is when it focuses solely on the interactions these three characters have with one another. Whether they’re alone or all in the same room together, I was always interested in seeing what sort of dynamic the directors/writers could make with these two, somewhat different dudes, and how, in ways that they don’t even know of, they’re alike. But, like most of what else that has to do with this movie, it doesn’t go that deep – rather, it just focuses on these guys playing games on the other, whether it be mental, physical or a good old game of Twister.

Okay, the colored-dot sheet never comes out, but you know it’d be so much more interesting if it had.

"I'm here for the funeral. Yours, to be exact!!"

“I’m here for the funeral. Yours, to be exact!!”

For instance, the most interesting character of this movie I thought was Gidi, played very well by Tzahi Grad, who I would have liked to see a movie dedicated to him, actually made. What works so well for this character of Gidi is that even though he is committing all of these reprehensible, immoral acts of torture (then again, what torture isn’t considered either “reprehensible” or “immoral”?), you can tell it comes from a really passionate spot in his heart. We all know that he loves his daughter to death and only wants to know where her body is, just in order to get some sort of closure. It’s sad to watch for what seems to be such a strong-willed, manly-man, but thus fate have it, looks can be deceiving. Because, deep down inside, behind all of the male-posturing, the constant-threats directed towards others and questionable choices he makes throughout these two-hours, therein lies a pretty sweet, tender guy that wants his daughter back and can’t get her back, but will try his hardest to get the closest thing to that. Grad is great in the role, but it’s the writing of Gidi that makes him so suitable as a protagonist. Or antagonist. It all depends on whatever stance you take on any war happening either now, or in the past.

However, I didn’t mean to focus mostly on Gidi in the last paragraph, just to show that the other two characters in this blow, because that just isn’t true. In fact, they are both fine and performed well by Lior Ashkenazi and Rotem Keinan, it’s just that they clearly weren’t given as much in the writer’s department as Gidi was. Which, once again, is fine, it just shows when you think about who the most intriguing character is, which one is the easiest to stand behind, who is the most shady and mysterious and who is the most bland of them all. I won’t spoil which one is which, that’s up to you to find out, but the results may, or may not shock you. Who knows, right?

Consensus: Though Big Bad Wolves may try to be a bit more than just a tongue-in-cheek approach to torture-porn, it doesn’t quite get there, and instead, can’t help but have us feel the pain, have a laugh or two and just enjoy whatever entertainment we’re given, minus any sort of substance.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

I guess this is where it gets fun.

I guess this is where it gets fun?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

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14 responses to “Big Bad Wolves (2014)

  1. charleswhitemanblogs March 12, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Nicely done on the review. That’s too bad though I was expecting more out of this film, i’ll still be giving it a shot.

  2. Joseph@thecinemamonster March 12, 2014 at 5:55 am

    It’s nice to see someone on the other side of this flick. I rather enjoyed it, despite it being hyped up as “best of the year” by QT. Excellent post, Dan :).

  3. Zoë March 12, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Great review Dan! I am really looking forward to seeing this, though you didn’t seem TOO thrilled with it. Hmmm, we will have to see!

  4. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop March 12, 2014 at 7:40 am

    I’d heard some really god things about this. Shame you didn’t like it too much but you make some good points. I’ll keep an eye out for it though.

  5. thomasjford March 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Yeah, I agree, I thought it was OK without being amazing. I think old QT must have some stake in the profits or something!

  6. jjames36 March 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I think this one much deeper than you do, with more layers than your standard torture porn. It has some flaws, to be sure, but all in all I think it a strong, intellectual experience.

  7. whitdenton98 March 14, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I saw this at Tribeca last year and loved it. I am a bit of a sucker for the whole tongue and cheek horror genre (why I liked You’re Next so much), so I thought this was great. Sorry you didn’t feel the same dude!

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