A family is caught up in a maelstrom of chaos in the tension-filled Israeli thriller series Hostages. Loyalties are stretched to breaking point as deceit and subterfuge is exposed and the boundaries between right and wrong become blurred in a high octane slice of Noir.
Making history by being the first Israeli series to air on BBC, Hostages comes hot on the heels of Sky Atlantic’s Prisoners of War, signaling that Israel television is flourishing and now ready to compete on equal terms with Scandinavian and American productions.
In the all-important market of format sales interest in Hebrew TV programmes is at an all-time high. Homeland, a remake of Prisoners of War, will air its fifth season later in 2015 and In Treatment, an adaptation of BeTipul, was a critical success that won Emmy Awards and Golden Globes
Rights to another series Yellow Peppers has been bought by the BBC, a remake is currently in production. HBO is developing an American version of the warm drama House of Wishes.
With media execs studying Israeli TV schedules for projects that could be redeveloped for an English speaking audience, it was inevitable that Hollywood would come calling once the cameras started rolling on Hostages. Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, Pirates of the Caribbean) bought the rights to make an American version while the original was still in production. Billed as a ‘new 24’ the remake starred Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding, The Sixth Sense).
Expanded to fifteen episodes the American version which aired on Channel 4 introduced new characters and added subplots. A bloated remake lacking the original’s punch it underperformed in the ratings and was canceled after a single season.
Now available on DVD, the Israeli original is a pacey pared to the bone thriller. Winner in the category of Best International Drama Series at the 54th Golden Nymph Awards, Hostages offers an addictive rush of tension, plot twists, and shadowy motivations.
Hostages proves that like its Nordic counterpart, Hebrew Noir excels at crafting strong female characters. Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel, Angels & Demons) plays eminent heart surgeon Dr Yael Danon. Head-hunted to perform a routine bypass operation on the Prime Minister. A career-high becomes a nightmare when her family is held hostage and threatened with execution unless she kills the Prime Minister.
Faced with a seemingly unsolvable moral dilemma, Yael must choose between saving her family or the Prime Minister. Unwilling to accept the situation on her captor’s terms she is resolved to freeing her family and ensuring that nobody dies on her operating table.
A tight family unit splinters once secrets and lies start to unravel leaving Yael unsure of who she can trust. Her husband has made some poor investments and tried to hide an eviction notice. Assaf, a hormonally charged teenage son has been hacking into the school’s computer, accessing exam papers to impress a girl in his class. Noa, Yael’s daughter, is pregnant.
Taut character-driven drama that piles on layer upon layer of pressure before blindsiding the viewer with a succession of unexpected plot twists. Complex emotional scenes collide with operatic bursts of action to create overwhelming feelings of paranoia, claustrophobia, and euphoria. Nail biting stuff from the opening frames to the closing credits.