'Big Bad Wolves' Movie Review

"Big Bad Wolves" Movie Review: 2 1/2 Stars

by Roger Moore

The new year has barely begun, but we'll be hard pressed to find a movie as disturbing, on many levels, as the darkly comic Israeli thriller "Big Bad Wolves."

It's about the torture of an accused child molester-serial killer. The torturers are sure they have their guy. The accused keeps protesting his innocence and suffering horribly.

We see cops use a stun gun on the guy's dog, kidnap the man, beat him with a phone book, bloody him and ruin his life. The police smirk and joke around as they carry out this destruction.

"Maniacs aren't afraid of guns," one experienced toenail-yanker says, justifying this lunacy. "Maniacs are afraid of maniacs." So, that's just who the cops become.

And, chillingly, co-writers / directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado intercut grim crime-scene moments and extended, dread-building torture sessions with chuckles at the funny ring tones on this or that cop's phone, at the bullying butterball son of the rotund police chief (Dvir Benedek of the Israeli sumo comedy, "A Matter of Size") who parrots his dad's criticism of loose-cannon cop Micki (Lior Ashkenazi).

A game of hide-and-go-seek ends with a little girl snatched from the closet of the abandoned house she and her friends are playing in.

We aren't given the "evidence" the cops have for making mild-mannered schoolteacher Dror (Rotem Keinan) their one and only suspect. Next thing you know, four cops are dragging Dror into an empty warehouse and beating his head with a phone book. A hidden teen tapes the torture on his phone.

But when that video goes viral, there's no outrage.

Kids in Dror's junior high school class laugh at it and assume the police must have had good reason. His boss is the same way. And Dror doesn't go to other cops or the media to protest this. That's puzzling, in a stack-the-deck sort of way.

Still, a scandal is about to erupt, and Micki is put on leave from the force. Most of the movie is about the bizarre, sometimes excruciating "enhanced interrogation methods" Dror is subjected to in the most cavalier ways. And not just by Micki.

As with the "Hostel" films, many moments will make you avert your eyes. There's a touch of "Dragon Tattoo" self-righteousness. Like "Touch of Evil," we're made to ponder the "any means necessary" approach of police whom we're just supposed to trust will "always get their man."

And here and there, we're supposed to laugh.

Even though Keinan does a poor job of playing the cumulative effects of broken bones, burns and cuts, torture is a hard thing to make funny.

Perhaps that's the broader point. If you laugh at this, you're culpable too.

No MPAA rating. Running time: 1:49.

In the movie "Big Bad Wolves," a series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings - a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder

'Big Bad Wolves' Movie Review & Movie Trailer