Reviewed by Drew Ninnis.
Director: Emmanuel Naccache
Screenplay: Emmanuel Naccache
Runtime: 97 minutes.
Cast: Tomer Sisley, Lionel Abelanski, Kev Adams, Bar Refaeli.
Trailer: “It contains endless data on the Iranian nuclear program.” (warning: amateur mistake, hate to see it.)
Plot: A team of would-be spies work to outwit the Israeli government, the French ambassador, the Russian scientific attaché, the representatives of Oman, the Iranian secret service, and a host of other international interests in their attempt to secure $100 million in diamonds for the stolen laptop of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. Led by talented con-man Daniel, the team are picked up by Mossad and interrogated for their role in the assassination of Al-Mabhouh. What follows is a game of cat and mouse, and the respective players try to get at the truth while forwarding their interests.
Review: Did Mossad-backed assassins take out Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas figure, in a hotel room in Dubai back in 2010? That’s the slightly tasteless premise of Kidon, a comedy meets spy thriller which entertains almost as much as it strains credibility. In an elaborate sting involving the laptop of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, which contains all of the secrets to the Iranian nuclear program for no discernable reason, ringleader Daniel (Tomer Sisley) attempts to extort $100 million in diamonds from the Iranian government, through a Russian KGB representative posing as a scientific attaché to Israel. To pull it off he needs his old team – hacker Facebook (yes, really - Kev Adams), brothel kingpin Eric (Lionel Abelanski), and eye-candy Einav (Bar Refaeli). Arrayed against them is the combined investigative force of Mossad and the Israeli police, who are quick to pick up the suspects and interrogate them for the truth. What proceeds to unwind is something akin to The Usual Suspects in twisty plot terms, piling silliness atop silliness but still hitting some amusing character beats. Your enjoyment is likely to be entirely determined by how seriously you take the film – for maximum appreciation, I would recommend a setting of not very seriously at all.
Central to the narrative are the sexual exploits of protagonist Daniel; who spends most of the film seducing the wife of the French ambassador with a speech strikingly similar to the pamphlet Chevalier reads in de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom. Whereas that is a neat reduction ad absurdum of hypocritical Republican values (the pamphlet is called 'Frenchmen, Some More Effort If You Wish To Become Republicans,' and advocates the sexual rights of everyone to sleep with everyone else whenever they wish), here it is aFifty Shades of Grey-worthy panty dropper. But it works; making Daniel’s magical cock one of the key contrivances that keeps their overly elaborate plan together. Sure, sure, Daniel will seek and find redemption by the end but let’s not forget what a slime ball he is at the outset. Other characters are less memorable, as small cogs within the overall caper – although hacker Facebook may impress some with his puppy-like enthusiasm and ability to post to youtube. The Mossad cast is rounded out by a suitable line up of Israeli fuddy-duddies, with a spunky, female police liaison (Haim Zanati) providing levity and sass.
All of the usual spy-thriller stupidities are present, including a Skyfall-worthy Mossad policy of plugging any random laptop or thumb drive directly into their top secret mainframe; and my personal bête noire, people using mobile phones in high security facilities (could it be NSA product placement?). But apart from a few glaring but forgivable holes the film is slickly shot, like an episode of 24 minus the torture, and well-paced by writer-director Emmanuel Naccache. For those not following closely there will be an element of “so who’s this guy now?” but otherwise the script follows the usual formula of triumph and reversal. There’s an attempt at the end to grab at some significance – Daniel philosophically remarks ‘we spend our lives refining our lies,’ so sure, Daniel, ok – but otherwise this is a fast-paced caper, pure and simple.
Overall, Kidon is an innocuous enough entertainment and worth a look if you’re in the mood for something light. Its message can be summed up in an unqualified affection for the underdog – oh, and to never, ever, ever trust the French.
Rating: Two and a half stars.