Thursday, August 29, 2019

Movie with Abe: Spider in the Web

Spider in the Web
Directed by Eran Riklis
Released August 30, 2019

There is a familiar film premise that finds an aging law enforcement official of some given agency who should probably have retired a few years ago on the hook for one last big case or operation that could well bring their downfall. This concept has been utilized many times over, and usually also involves a younger partner who is initially at odds with them and might eventually come to be a trusted ally as the senior character’s still-existing prowess becomes evident. A new iteration of this idea needs to bring it with a degree of individuality and a surrounding story worthy of its specific creation.

Adereth (Ben Kingsley) is an agent of the Israeli Mossad who has spent forty years working covertly for his country. To ensure that he remains relevant rather than being forcefully ousted, he has padded his latent intelligence reports, leading Mossad to send a young agent, Daniel (Itay Tiran), to shadow him. Hints of a chemical weapons sale send Adereth to Angela (Monica Bellucci), who he begins to position as an asset, closely watched by the unimpressed Daniel who is set on doing his job and keeping the resourceful and cunning Adereth in line.

This film comes from Israeli director Eran Riklis, whose credits include “Lemon Tree” and “The Syrian Bride.” Unlike his previous film, “Shelter,” this project doesn’t feel urgent or gripping, and instead travels through its narrative slowly and unenergetically. Though it’s produced by a number of Israeli companies, this spy drama doesn’t feel at all Israeli, paling in comparison even to the recent Netflix offering “The Red Sea Diving Resort,” which also featured Kingsley as a Mossad operative. Conveniently, Kingsley never utters a word of Hebrew here even while other characters around him do, and his many stories don’t exactly make his background believable.

Regardless of whether he fits this part, Kingsley is always formidable to watch, and there is an effortlessness to his charismatic performance that shows through here. As with his recent performance in the underrated television series “Perpetual Grace, LTD,” Kingsley delivers each line with care and purpose, and that helps somewhat to elevate a thinly-written character in this project. This film is full of clichés and predictable plot points, and at times it’s impossible to decipher exactly what is going on due to a confusing narrative with unexplained jumps and scene transitions. This premise is decidedly tired, and this attempt to revive it falls extremely short on many levels.


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