An Intense Holocaust Drama With No Easy Answers

NR | 1h49 | Drama, Thriller, History, War | October 14, 2022 (US)

As “Plan A” makes clear, the source of WWII tales seems bottomless. For more than 75 years, studios and filmmakers have unearthed one little-known factual story after another and, with few exceptions, the resulting films deepen our knowledge and understanding of what is arguably the period the darkest that mankind has ever known.

Max (August Diehl) wants to hunt the SS agents in “Plan A”. (Getaway Pictures)

The film is not long in chaining us by asking this question in voiceover: “What if I told you that your family was murdered for no reason? Now ask yourself, what would you do? »

This same statement is repeated in the final five minutes and in between, by the characters and, by proxy, us the audience, we are presented with two choices. Do they intend to take “an eye for an eye” or recognize that “living well is the best revenge?”

Not a warm return

Forget living well; just staying upright and above the ground is a major win for Max (August Diehl). After recently escaping from a Nazi death camp, all Max wants to do is return home to the German countryside and find his missing wife and son. When he gets there, he encounters the man who annexed his property and who then knocks Max out with the butt of a gun.

While squatting in a burnt-out synagogue, Max crosses paths with Michael (Michael Aloni, “When Heroes Fly”), the commander of a small group of motivated soldiers known as the “Jewish Brigade.” Seemingly overseen by the British Army, the brigade scours the country seeking out SS agents and executing them without quarter, which pleases the increasingly resentful Max.

It is only after Max’s relentless pleas that Michael allows him to join the Squad but, when the going gets tough, Max can’t quite bring himself to kill someone in cold blood. On the verge of meeting his own end, Max is saved by Anna (Sylvia Hoecks, “Blade Runner 2049”, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”), a member of the paramilitary group “Nakam” led by Abba Kovener (Ishai Golan, ” The Golem”) The English translation of the Hebrew “Nakam” is “revenge”.

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Anna (Sylvia Hoeks) talks with Max (August Diehl) about getting revenge for the Holocaust in “Plan A.” (Getaway Pictures)

Shortly after the British withdrew their support, Nakam split up and hatched a scorched earth plan to extend their revenge far beyond the former Nazis to the entire German population, whom they believed to be guilty of not did nothing to stop the genocide of the Jews. Their new mantra becomes: “six million for six million”.

Kovener’s (the only non-fictional, non-composite character in the film) new strategy was to put a tasteless, odorless, virtually undetectable liquid poison into the water supply of Germany’s 10 largest cities, including Nuremberg, where Max and Anna pose as non-Jews. water treatment workers.

No-frills filmmaking

Israeli writer-director brothers Doron and Yoav Paz (“Jeruzalem,” “Phobidilia”) present their narrative with a measured yet intense balance. There are no grandiose monologues, over-the-top or over-the-top action sequences, or any kind of self-conscious photography and sleight of hand.

In tandem with cinematographer Moshe Mishali, the Paz showcase a perfectly dark color palette, which one would expect to see in a region where a five-year world war has just ended. Tal Yardeni’s score is suitably subdued, understated, and provides accent only where needed.

Both in content and plot, Yaz’s script bears more than a passing resemblance to director Edward Zwick’s 2008 “Defiance,” starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber as real-life Hungarian Jewish brothers who fought the Nazi guerrillas.

There are also similarities between “Plan A” and Steven Spielberg’s 2005 “Munich,” the non-fiction story of five Israelis who plotted revenge against the Fedayeen, the Palestinian fighters who were part of the Black September Organization (BSO ). The 1972 BSO terrorist attack claimed the lives of 11 Jews at the 1972 Olympics.

Those familiar with Quentin Tarantino’s films will immediately recognize the thematic overlap between “Plan A” and his 2009 revisionist masterpiece “Inglourious Basterds,” starring Brad Pitt as the leader of a group of Jewish soldiers. Americans accused of murdering Nazis.

Ironically (or maybe not), Diehl also appeared in “Inglourious Basterds” as the stone-cold Nazi officer Dieter Hellstrom who blasts the main character’s cover.

Needless to say, Max and Dieter are worlds apart in every possible way. Looking like a cross between early ’90s Christopher Walken and Hugh Grant after an all-nighter, Diehl displays a level of range here that few other actors could even imagine pulling off.

“Plan A” is a heartbreaking emotional punch that will stay in your head, heart, and soul long after the end credits roll and raise some serious questions about revenge.

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The “Plan A” poster tells the story of a group of Jews who plan to eradicate the population of Germany. (Getaway Pictures)

‘Plan A’
Directors: Doron Paz, Yoav Paz
With: August Diehl, Sylvia Hoecks, Michael Aloni, Ishai Golan
Duration: 1 hour 49 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release date: October 14, 2022
Rating: 4 out of 5

Michael Clark

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Washington, DC native Michael Clark has provided film content to over 30 print and online outlets. He co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017 and contributes weekly to the Shannon Burke Show on FloridaManRadio.com. Since 1995, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 film reviews and film-related articles. He favors black comedy, thrillers and documentaries.