Big Bad Wolves Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado

Near the midpoint of this finely crafted serial-killer flick, two of the leads—a pair of policemen gone rogue—have a strategic tête-à-tête. Are we going to play this “good cop, bad cop”? Brief consideration. Nope. The perp is a pedophile-rapist/ killer. As it happens, among his victims is the daughter of one of the cops. It’s an ugly scenario that demands commensurate action. “Bad cop, bad cop?” Agreed. But what if the mild-mannered teacher of religious studies is actually, as he adamantly maintains, innocent?

The problems begin in the first scene. The teacher is brought to an abandoned warehouse, bound to a chair, and then all but pulverized with a phonebook. He’s not the only one with problems. The beating is captured on a cellphone; when it goes viral on YouTube, the officer most responsible for the deed is busted down to traffic duty. Nevertheless the “investigation” will continue at an even more remote location.

Co-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado are Israeli. The film is in Hebrew—which may mean it will get less attention from the genre crowd. (Although Tarantino has already proclaimed it “the best film of the year.”) In addition to its accomplished visual style and pacing, and its excellent cast, special mention should be made of the writing, particularly the way in which it manages to inject all sorts of comedy into the gaps between the mayhem—and sometimes directly into the nail-pulling brutality itself.