Review of The Spy

The Spy (2019)
Enthralling true life drama
6 October 2019
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Early 1960s, Tel Aviv. Eli Cohen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a shy, unassuming Mossad agent, eager for something to really test him. A series of Syrian air strikes have been shattering Israeli oil fields, and taking the lives of innocent civilians. The top brass need an agent to go undercover, and infiltrate the Syrian government, as a new leader is poised to take over. Eli impresses them with his aptitude and responses, and is chosen to the job. But as he dedicates himself to his job, he finds himself being manipulated by those in charge, who are using him more than he thinks, leading to unforeseen consequences.

Throughout various stages of time, world politics have always shifted in favour of one side or another, and in this ambitious, rich six part Netflix production, we are transported to the sands of the Middle East, at a time when the state of Israel was fairly young, and the far reaching dominance of Mossad was being established. Despite it's rising power base, and enduring sympathy from the world, Israel was still prone to attacks from the various Islamic countries that wanted it out of the way, which has remained consistent ever since (indeed, the true life lead character Cohen admits to feeling sneered down on because of his Arab roots) and in this enthralling production, we are taken through a five year period in the early 60s, where this place and time are brought to life in magnetising fashion.

In a fitting but surprising position in the lead role, Baron Cohen is admittedly (especially if you want to be a little immature!) a bit hard to take seriously, given his extensive back catalogue of comedy creations (at various times, you're rather tempted to shout out 'Jagshemesh' when he appears!), but he undeniably commands the screen with his lead performance, as a bumbling but professional man, who is forced to toughen up in order to deal with his harsh treatment from both sides, nevertheless still falling for the manipulation that leads to his depressing fate. Although he's hard to take his eyes off, he's still ably supported by a supporting cast including Noah Emmerich and Yael Eitan.

This is a story that had to be told (and remembered), detailing a sad part of the history of the state of Israel, given plenty of air to breathe over it's six part series status, and almost completely affecting as a result. ****
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