Sometimes, the most difficult part of the war is when it’s over.
Set at the conclusion of WWII in 1945, Plan A introduces us to Max (August Diehl), a man who dreams nightly of his murdered wife and daughter. Shattered by their loss, Max meets a group of Holocaust survivors who have a plan for revenge. By infiltrating a local water treatment plant, they intend on poisoning the water system, killing all the Germans who drink from it.
Directed by Doron and Yoav Paz, Plan A is a gripping and heartbreaking film that affects the viewer on multiple levels. Based on true events, the film carries the tension of a heist thriller. As Max and his team attempt to execute their operation, the film remains focused and energetic. However, the real power in the film lies with their motivation. Unlike other examples of the genre, this sort of revenge isn’t rooted in financial gain or spurned lovers. Instead, this plot is rooted within the soul-crushing pain of the Holocaust and the damage that it has left behind. For these radicals, the only way to repay the Nazis for their crimes is to leave a trail of bodies of their own.
With this in mind though, what makes Plan A so fascinating though is the fact that this revenge thriller doesn’t take its violence lightly. With franchises such as John Wick, Taken, Nobody and even Atomic Blonde fueling the box office in the past few years, the story of a man with vengeance on his mind has come back in a big way. However, these films are often marked by over-the-top scenes of murder that are designed to make the viewer cheer at their stunning (and creative) choreography of death.
But Plan A isn’t meant to be a cathartic experience. Instead, it feels the weight of the team’s actions. Enraged by the death of his family, Max’s wrath is designed to consume any and all Germans in his wake. This is not a moment of fury but rather a cold, calculated attempt to make a statement. Partnering with like-minded individuals, Max believes in his cause. Although it can never return his family to him, he needs to do something to make them hurt as much as he does.
He owns his pain. And he refuses to let it go.
In this way, there’s something poignant in the way that Plan A handles trauma. Devastated by the actions of the Nazis, the Jewish community has been left irrevocably changed. This is now a key moment in their history. The losses that they have suffered have left scars and they must now lean into the future bearing them.
In Plan A, the Paz brothers do what they can to help the viewer attempt to understand the ethos of the era. (“Imagine your family was murdered… What would you do?,” the film asks in its opening and closing moments.) While it never justifies the actions of these rebels, neither does it condemn them either. This is a story that wants its audience to feel the weight of their suffering but also to feel the conflict of rooting for their success. In fact, even the characters are struggling with it. Whereas some are committed to the cause, others wonder whether or not this separates them from those who destroyed their families.
When the world has been stripped from you, what is the best revenge? Violence… or moving forward?
These are the questions that make Plan A worth the viewing time. As they delve into the psychology of revenge, the Paz brothers have woven a tale so unique that (literally) begs the viewer to place themselves in the moment. Broken and battered by suffering, Plan A recognizes that hurt people want to hurt people. But, given the opportunity, does that make them any less than their monsters themselves?
Plan A is available on VOD/Digital now.