‘Plan A’, the astonishing story of Jewish avengers opens this week on VOD platforms

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Dan Buffa, Special For The Jewish Light

“What if I told you that your family was murdered for no reason at all? Now, ask yourself, what would you do?” 

This heart-piercing question opens the Holocaust revenge drama “Plan A,” which is based on a true story.

That special brand of venom surged through many Jewish souls after the collapse of their entire civilization during World War II. While the battle was ultimately won, many Jews traveled to their homes only to see a German family living inside of it. That’s how Doron and Yoav Paz’s “Plan A” begins.

Max (August Diehl), ravaged and worn down, paces towards his home shortly after the defeat of Germany. But he doesn’t find a parade greeting him as he arrives home. Instead, it’s the butt of a shotgun, in the hands of an older German man living in his home.

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Max’s world is broken

Max’s world is broken, and he falls in with a rogue band of Jews led by Michael (“Shtisel” star Michael Aloni), carrying out post-war executions of Nazi soldiers. It’s during those adventures that Max runs into a different band of “Jewish avengers.” That’s how one of Michael’s team describes the crew led by Abba (Ishai Golan), which includes the beautiful yet haunting Anna (Sylvie Hoeks).

Abba’s group is after something a lot bigger than just picking off rogue Nazis. They want to poison the well, literally.

“Plan A,” tells the story of Holocaust survivors who planned to poison the water system in Germany. It wasn’t just to take out a few cities; they wanted it all to come down–essentially doing to the Germans what they did to them: Killing millions for no reason.

Anna and Max

Anna and Max are more conflicted mourners than genuine killers. They can’t make that cross from the life-building over to the life-taking section. They are passengers in the quiet war that took place after the big one. It’s these kinds of complex and uneasy-to-resolve revenge films that build up extra space in your head after viewing. It lingers with you, asking all the tough questions that a brazen yet more fun “Inglourious Basterds” does.

As the opening (and closing) monologue asks the viewers: “What if your whole family was murdered? What would you do?” It’s not a question or a movie, that demands an absolute answer.

Max has lost his wife and son, or at least that’s what he thinks as “Plan A” begins. He’s only trying to find them or find out about them. It’s a haunting journey with no easy turns or moments, and that’s how the film rolls. It’s a confident walk by the filmmaking duo.

The acting in ‘Plan A’

The acting is terrific across the board. Diehl could haunt a thousand seas, and that’s when he’s smiling. His hair is as unkempt as his fractured soul, and it almost plays a supporting part as Max wrestles with his conscience, both young and old. He makes the film uncompromising from the very first second.

I can see why the Israeli community loves Aloni’s work. He is like a level down from Mads Mikkelsen, but more charming off the bat. That’s how his Michael in the film coaxes the misguided Max into his temporary brand of justice. He’s a compelling talent.

Hoeks portrayed “hands down” one of cinema’s greatest on-screen villains in Denis Villenueve’s “Blade Runner: 2049.” She beat up Ryan Gosling and commanded the screen with Robin Wright, Harrison Ford, and Jared Leto. And in “Plan A,” she is initially a woman of action who can save a man from sure death in the woods–before later kissing him. Like me and millions across the world though, a few concentration camp death photos will do her in. That’s where Max comes in.

The great thing

The great thing about “Plan A,” which debuted in the United States. at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in August, is that it asks all the right compelling post-war questions while presenting very few easy answers. The not-so-great thing is that the film could have lost 10-15 minutes in the middle section, thus becoming a near-flawless movie. Still, it’s a very fine war film in its own right.

I wouldn’t miss this one for the very end alone. It has little to do with the climax of this film’s story, and more to do with who it is about. This is the story of the Jewish avengers, the ones who decided to cross that fateful river of revenge–or choose something more peaceful and difficult.

Opening on VOD

On October 14th, the film will open in theatres in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati Phoenix, Seattle, South Florida and other cities around the country. On that date, it will also be available on numerous VOD platforms such as Apple TV, Prime Video (to buy/rent), GooglePlay, Vudu, Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Verizon, DIRECTV,  Frontier, and Dish.