‘The Engineer’ helmed by director Danny A. Abeckaser retells the true incidents of the 1990s bombings in Tel Aviv, and the hunt for the attack’s orchestrator. Shin Bet agent Etan leads an elite team of operatives put together for the sole purpose of locating and neutralizing Yahya Ayyash, the mastermind bombmaker, in enemy territory. The death of a U.S. senator’s daughter puts additional pressure on their operation, as the squad goes undercover into the heart of Gaza to send a clear message to any terrorists daring to raise their weapons against their people.
The action thriller follows up on its historical premise with a gritty and compelling historical backdrop, presenting an authentic atmosphere with convincing performances from the cast. Additionally, the narrative also switches over the the other side, shedding some much-needed light on how hate manifests itself in the hearts of men, leading them to commit such atrocities. Witnessing its nationalistic fervor, counterterrorism operation, and driven characters, one is left wanting to watch more films covering such themes encapsulated within the region’s conflict.
8. 6 Days (2017)
‘6 Days,’ directed by Toa Fraser, recounts the gripping true story of the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in London. The film chronicles the tense six-day standoff between the British Special Air Service (SAS) and a group of armed terrorists demanding the release of Arab prisoners from Khuzestan. The narrative unfolds with a meticulous depiction of the escalating crisis, focusing on the SAS’s strategic planning, negotiations, and harrowing efforts to rescue hostages held captive inside the embassy.
Fraser delves into the intense psychological pressure faced by the SAS operatives led by Rusty Firmin, highlighting their determination, bravery, and the moral complexities inherent in their mission. Through a compelling portrayal of the relentless siege, ‘6 Days’ offers a gripping true account as done in ‘The Engineer,’ matching its high-stakes drama, meticulous military tactics, and the human toll involved in combating terrorism.
7. Beirut (2018)
Helmed by director Brad Anderson, ‘Beirut’ navigates the political landscape and volatile setting of war-torn 1980s Lebanon. The film follows former U.S. diplomat Mason Skiles, who returns to Beirut years after a tragic incident forced him to leave the country. Now working as a mediator, Skiles becomes entangled in a dangerous mission when CIA agents approach him to negotiate the release of a kidnapped friend. Like ‘The Engineer,’ ‘Beirut’ has a backdrop of geopolitical tensions, and sees an anti-terrorist operation overseen by intelligence agencies. Skiles navigates the treacherous terrain of Beirut’s underground world, confronting personal demons and complex moral dilemmas while attempting to unravel the truth.
6. The Angel (2018)
A biographical thriller based on the real-life story of Ashraf Marwan, ‘The Angel,’ directed by Ariel Vromen, centers on the Egyptian billionaire and Mossad agent. The film portrays Marwan’s pivotal role in providing intelligence to Israel during the tumultuous era of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Marwan works at the highest levels of the Egyptian government and comes to learn of a planned attack on Israel, which would cause a humongous loss of life on both sides.
Upon contacting the Israeli embassy and working as a double agent to stop the attack dead in its tracks, he becomes known as “The Angel” by Israeli intelligence. Just as ‘The Engineer’ gave us a look into the workings of Israeli intelligence and defense, Marwan’s dangerous double life as a secret informant for Mossad, introduces us to a subtler side of national security work. While the spy film may have less action compared to the former, it more than makes up for it with its thrilling portrayal of wildly dangerous double agent work. It delves further into Marwan as a man torn between loyalties, navigating a perilous game of international espionage that shaped the course of history in the Middle East.
5. Paradise Now (2005)
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, ‘Paradise Now’ is a thought-provoking drama centered on two Palestinian childhood friends, Said and Khaled, who are chosen for a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv. The film intimately delves into their personal struggles, ideologies, and the moral complexity surrounding their decision. Set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the narrative follows Said and Khaled as they grapple with their commitment to their cause and the human implications of their intended actions.
Through its poignant storytelling and performances, ‘Paradise Now’ sheds light on the human side of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, as was briefly done in ‘The Engineer,’ going deeper into explorations of political conflicts, and the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle and the toll it takes on individuals.
4. The Kingdom (2007)
‘The Kingdom,’ by director Peter Berg, is a gripping action-thriller centered around an FBI team investigating a terrorist attack on an American compound in Saudi Arabia. The film delves into the complex dynamics between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Led by FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury, the team faces numerous obstacles as they attempt to locate the perpetrators behind the devastating bombing. Operating in a politically charged environment and facing resistance from local authorities, the investigators navigate cultural differences and bureaucratic hurdles to pursue justice.
As in ‘The Engineer,’ an elite team of operatives finds itself in unfriendly territory, often engaging in intense firefights in their perilous quest for retribution. Through its fast-paced storytelling and tense atmosphere, ‘The Kingdom’ explores themes of international diplomacy, terrorism, and the intricacies of cross-border investigations that are sure to enthrall fans of ‘The Engineer.’
3. Mosul (2019)
‘Mosul,’ directed by Matthew Michael Carnahan, is a visceral war drama based on true events surrounding the battle to liberate the city of Mosul from the grip of ISIS. The film unfolds through the eyes of an Iraqi SWAT team led by the determined officer, Jasem, who joins forces with a renegade group of fighters to reclaim their city from the brutal extremist regime. Set amidst the ruins and chaos of Mosul’s streets, the narrative immerses us in intense combat, gritty urban warfare, and the camaraderie that forms among the diverse group of fighters.
The SWAT team navigates the harrowing reality of insurgency, facing overwhelming odds and personal sacrifices as they engage in fierce battles against ISIS militants, determined to free their city from tyranny. The film shares themes of counterterrorism, camaraderie, and nationalism with ‘The Engineer’ while also being based on true events of conflict in the region. Through its raw and unflinching portrayal of the Mosul conflict, gripping performances, and pulse-pounding action sequences, the Netflix film is sure to enthrall fans of Danny Abeckaser’s work.
2. The Mountain II (2016)
‘The Mountain II,’ or ‘Dag II,’ is a gripping Turkish war drama that follows a unit of elite Maroon Berets venturing into wartorn Syria to rescue a Turkish news reporter from an ISIS beheading. The grueling journey of brothers in arms, Lt. Oguz and Specialist Bekir Özbey is followed from their training days into the present-day covert operation.
The seven-man squad rescues their target and begins to traverse a treacherous landscape to their extraction point. Their path is marred by death and destruction left in the wake of the ISIS insurgency. Upon reaching the exfiltration point in a Syrian village on the border, they are beset on all sides by an army of militants, and opt to save the civilians in a final stand. If elements of nationalism, action, and the gritty realities of conflict stood out to you in ‘The Engineer,’ ‘Dag II’ will deliver it in spades, with excellently choreographed action sequences and hair-raising patriotic fervor.
1. Munich (2005)
By the visionary director Steven Spielberg, ‘Munich’ presents a riveting portrayal of the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. The film follows a secret Israeli squad, led by Avner Kaufman, tasked with hunting down and assassinating individuals linked to the Palestinian terrorist group responsible for the tragic events at the Olympic Games. Steeped in political tension and moral ambiguity, the narrative delves into the operatives’ covert missions across Europe as they execute their assignments. As the team carries out targeted killings, doubts about the righteousness of their actions and the cyclical nature of violence begin to weigh heavily on their conscience. Much like ‘The Engineer,’ the film finds its premise in the true events of a terrorist attack, going on to follow a secret Israeli team as they venture into unfamiliar territory to eliminate the perpetrators.