The 2023 movie The Engineer is directed by Israeli-born filmmaker Danny A. Abeckaser, and one would think that being born in the conflict zone, he would make an authentic movie about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Well, nobody expects somebody to be purely objective about the situation; some biases are sure to creep in, but that’s not the problem with The Engineer. It’s the insipidity of the whole film that is bothersome.
Abeckaser seems to be making a somber spy procedural, yet he is afraid that the movie will not fit genre conventions. So, The Engineer feels stuck in limbo, with the background score screeching all the way to make sure you are watching an exciting edge-of-the-seat thriller. No, we aren’t, by the way! The story is so potent that just listening to it makes one’s hair stand on the back of the neck, but the execution is dull, the casting could’ve been better, and the posturing could’ve been lessened. All of this makes the film suffer. The plot begins with a suicide bombing in Israel, and one of its victims turns out to be the daughter of US Senator David Adler. Two parallel teams, one from Israeli intelligence and one from Adler’s ex-Mossad crew, unbeknownst to each other, converge to hunt the mastermind behind the bombings, simply known as The Engineer.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
After Senator Adler finds out his daughter has been killed, he wants to take revenge against the man who planned the whole thing. He has no dearth of resources as a senator, and he wields his power to arm-twist Avi, an ex-Mossad agent living in America, to go back to Israel and help him get his revenge. Meanwhile, there was Etan, part of the Israeli intelligence agency Shin-Bet, who had been suspended because of his habit of torturing prisoners, and yet when the bombings began, he was called back to locate Yahya Ayyash, aka the Engineer. They were both pretty intelligent people. Avi returned and started to communicate with his crew and put together his team, while Etan rejoined his old crew, which had already begun the manhunt.
Why Did Etan Agree To Go Back?
Etan was hesitant to leave his family again, and he had an issue joining the same team that he had been suspended from. Etan was the kind of agent who would get the information through any means necessary, which is why he tortured a prisoner. He was never out of control, and he was successful in his job, but he had to be suspended. He would never have gone back, but the bombings were breaking the spirit of the Israeli people, and he knew he could be of use in catching Yahya. When the Israeli officer, his superior, came to Etan’s door to beg him to return, he finally listened and moved his family out of Israel. He rejoined the team, which was keeping surveillance on Yahya’s wife. His team consisted of Tomas, Fanni, and Eli. All they knew was that Yahya’s wife was living in a secluded house, and they expected Yahya to somehow make contact.
How Did Avi Get Close To Locating ‘The Engineer’?
Avi depended a lot on his former Mossad crew to help him. He had been forced into going back to Israel and locating Yahya, both emotionally and politically. Adler had eyes on Israeli ex-agents living in America, and he was perhaps keeping tabs on them for this day. Now he needed Avi’s help to locate not just the man responsible for his daughter’s death but also the man who was launching a terror campaign so brutal and pervasive that it was taking its toll on the Israeli people. Avi was living a good life in America and wasn’t helping his fellow Israelis, and this was probably his last chance.
It is why Avi took this job seriously and started to contact the ex-agents that were hiding in plain sight to help him get to Yahya. First, he made contact with Levi, who got him in touch with Gili. They went to Gaza, where Gili made Avi aware that everybody in Palestine was behind Yahya and that he had become a kind of hero.
How Was ‘The Engineer’ killed?
Avi was working with Gili and Levi to locate a man named Khader. He was the man who had transported one of the suicide bombers into Tel Aviv after crossing the border. Surely, he would know where Yahya was. Etan and his team of Shin-Bet agents were following their intel, which had them following a man named Abdel Nasser Issa, who was making explosives. They had to catch him and get information about who he was making the explosives for. So both teams had their men they were targeting, and soon their paths were going to converge. Avi, in his pursuit of looking for Khader, was engaged in a shootout, and then Senator Adler showed up in Palestine, asking Avi to let him kill Yahya. It was absurd for Adler to be there in that capacity, and it was extremely dangerous for Avi and his crew to be spotted with an American. But they had no choice but to keep him underground now.
Avi finally located Khader, who told him that he didn’t know where Yahya was, but he did reveal that Yahya’s wife was pregnant and they might find him there. Etan captured Abdel Nasser Issa, and he also revealed that he did make bombs for Yahya, but he didn’t know where he was. He gave them the information that Yahya’s wife was pregnant. So both Avi’s and Etan’s teams honed in on her house. Etan arrived slightly early and searched the house but didn’t find Yahya. Fanni, who was monitoring the wife’s house, saw Avi’s team enter after Etan and others had left. Etan followed them, thinking they were Yahya’s men, and tracked them down just outside of Gaza. He was shocked to see a fellow Israeli team working unofficially to track down Yahya. Before Etan could decide whether or not to involve Avi in his mission, the Israeli Prime Minister was assassinated, and it became absolutely pressing for him and his team to find Yahya. He could use Avi and his team in the manhunt.
The big question was: Where was Yahya staying? He wasn’t there with his wife or relatives. Fanni took out the records of Yahya’s schoolmates, thinking he could be staying at one of his old classmates’ places. Her intuition was correct. Yahya was staying at Osama’s, his school friend’s, place. What helped Etan was that Osama’s uncle had once been Shin-Bet’s informant. They used Osama’s uncle to help replace Osama’s mobile phone that he was using to help Yahya communicate with his father. It was probably Yahya’s father who brainwashed him into taking the lives of innocent people in the name of religion. Yahya talked to him continually, and this information was enough for Avi and Etan to hunt him down. Osama’s uncle successfully replaced the mobile phone and gave Osama a mobile phone with a tiny bomb inside it that could be detonated by Eli from headquarters. There were some hiccups earlier, but the second time they got the chance, Etan confirmed that Yahya was talking on the mobile phone, and right then, Eli detonated the bomb, killing Yahya on the spot. They had to get out of there, but Avi and Gili were hit. Gili died on the spot, and Etan tried hard to rescue Avi but couldn’t save him. Avi was survived by his wife and daughter.
During The Engineer‘s ending, where the old woman on the bus turned out to be a suicide bomber, only implies that Yahya was just one man, indoctrinated by violent fundamentalism. There were many others just like him who continued the killing business in the name of the freedom struggle, and innocent lives kept getting lost. Everyone wants peace, but the routes we take are as important as the desired result, and if the root cause is not changed, the violence will continue, even after people like Avi or Etan put their lives on the line to kill men like Yahya.