Walk on Water

Walk on water

Walk on Water
Made in: Israel, Germany
Language: Hebrew, German, English
Director: Eytan Fox
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Knut Berger, Caroline Peters, Gideon Shemer, Ernest Lenard
Year: 2004

Synopsis: Eyad (Lior Ashkenazi) is a highly skilled operative working for the Israeli intelligence services, better known as the Mossad. After assassinating a prominent terrorist in Turkey, Eyad returns to Israel to find that his wife has committed suicide.

Refusing the recommendation of going into counseling in order to deal with his loss, Eyad's only other option is to accept another mission from his section chief, Menachem (Gideon Shemer).

Eyad's next assignment is to discover the whereabouts of Alfred Himmelman (the late Ernest Lenard), a fugitive Nazi wanted for heinous war crimes during the holocaust. Himmelman has come out of hiding and returned to Germany, and the Mossad's only lead is Himmelman's granddaughter Pia (Caroline Peters).

Pia is a progressive young woman working at a kibbutz in Israel, and like most modern German people, has grown up with a far more different and liberal view of the world involving peace, love, techno music, and oodles of Heineken.

Knowing that Pia's brother Axel (Knut Berger) is coming to visit, Eyad goes undercover as a private tour guide hired to show him around. The idea is for Eyad to befriend them, and hopefully gather information on where to find Alfred so the Israeli government can whack the guy before he dies of old age.

Preoccupied with Israel's more immediate problems such as the ever-present threat of suicide bombers and annoying tourists, Eyad believes that the whole operation is a waste of time and that the Nazis are an issue best left in the past.

At first regarding Axel and his sister with disdain for their touchy-feely, borderline-hippie ways, Eyad slowly warms to the idealism of the young Germans, and begins a journey of healing and self-discovery.

The Good: Walk on Water is an Israeli film with a fascinating premise, and offers a glimpse of Israel we Americans don't normally get from the likes of CNN.

Lior Ashkenazi plays the part of hardened, cynical Eyad with convincing intensity, and director Eytan Fox does a great job building up the conflict and creating interesting exchanges between his likeable, well-developed characters.

The bad: Eyad's character arc is too contrived at the end, and the story goes in way too many directions.

In addition to the central plot, Walk on Water tries tackling a number of sub-themes, such as Lior's history and family connection with the holocaust, the present Arab-Israeli conflict, homosexuality, the rift between Pia and her parents, and the emotional/psychological impact of assassinating people.

Many of these issues, although logical within the context of the story, become tangents rather than elements that all connect in the end. And the worst part is that most of them aren't explored deeply enough, and come across as self-conscious and preachy.

On a pickier note, as a big fan of spy movies I found Eyad to be a bit sloppy for a Mossad operative. Known for their effectiveness as one of the most feared intelligence agencies in the world, the Mossad is no joke, and no one in their right mind would screw with them.

Yet Eyad is seen doing boneheaded things like leaving behind highly sensitive information in an unlocked bag and forgetting to close/lock doors behind him when he sneaks into a room to kill someone.

And during some action scenes, the fight choreography was kind of lame.

Who would like this movie: If you have an interest in foreign languages, travel, and learning about other cultures, Walk on Water will definitely be fascinating in many ways.

This foreign film is a strong effort on the part of director Eytan Fox, and you can tell he genuinely cares about the subject matter. However, the end result is a decent, but not great, movie.

(2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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