Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
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  1. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    Apr 4, 2013
    Although the subject matter is inherently disturbing, it’s hard to imagine any audience remaining unmoved by this mournful tale.
  2. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jun 24, 2013
    The conflict in The Attack is less about the reasoning behind immoral behavior than the problems involved in any cursory understanding of it.
  3. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    Apr 4, 2013
    On both a political and a personal level, the film is pessimistic, yes, but it feels truthful, and never lapses into easy cynicism.
  4. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jun 27, 2013
    The Attack rewards your patience. Though it's never less than involving, it grows in stature as it unfolds and ends as a more subtle and disturbing film about love, loss and tragedy than we might initially expect.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jun 27, 2013
    Remarkably accomplished and self-confident. In dramatic terms The Attack borrows a page from Alfred Hitchcock's playbook — an innocent in a strange land, delving into dangerous matters he doesn't understand. In political terms, though, the script is unsparing and ultimately bleak. It doesn't justify terrorism, but it does dramatize the rage and despair that dominate life in the occupied territories.
  6. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Jun 18, 2013
    The Attack is most avowedly "about" terrorism. But that's a subject, not the subject. The film, an arresting and upsetting one, is also about love, trauma, and trust, both within one particular marriage and within entire cultures.
  7. Reviewed by: Marsha McCreadie
    Jul 26, 2013
    The best kind of anti-war propaganda film, calm in feeling and mood, yet truly terrifying in showing the scourge of our age: terrorism, which can strike anybody, anywhere, at any time. It's also a love story, and a film about having it all. And then in an instant, losing everything.
  8. 88
    Doueiri has brilliantly and simply put a compassionate human face on a part of the world where ethnicity still trumps education, class and achievement, where even the successful face, at best, second-class citizenship in their own country.
  9. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Jun 20, 2013
    One thing Doueiri didn't get from Tarantino is smirky attitude; The Attack is sad and resigned, but also tender.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jun 28, 2013
    As this film demonstrates in so many ways, the intractability of the Arab-Israeli political situation is, to put it mildly, not easily resolved, least of all onscreen.
  11. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Jun 24, 2013
    It could easily have veered into opportunistic melodrama. But the director’s focused restraint and Suliman’s wonderfully understated performance keep us grounded.
  12. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jun 20, 2013
    Mr. Doueiri creates characters, emotional colors and political contradictions that have the agonized sting and breathe of life.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Stamets
    Jul 26, 2013
    The Attack is not just about an incident targeting Israelis. This is also the story of not knowing Palestinians.
  14. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jun 28, 2013
    The central figure in The Attack is the very picture of a tolerant, integrated future for the Mideast. When a horrific blast kills 17 people and sends dozens of wounded to his hospital, he's elbow-deep trying to save the victims, even the one who refuses help from an Arab.
  15. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Jun 20, 2013
    On one level, The Attack is a mystery, but not the kind you think. It’s obvious from the start who detonated the bomb; the only question is why. It’s a question that probably cannot be answered to the satisfaction of anyone living outside Israel or the occupied territories.
  16. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Aug 20, 2013
    Though director Ziad Doueiri’s uneven treatment of this provocative premise suffers from contrivance and implausibility, it nonetheless arouses profound questions about fanaticism, cultural identity, and the essential mystery of other people, even those we think we know best.
  17. Reviewed by: Adam Nayman
    Aug 1, 2013
    Despite its explosive subject matter, the movie has been carefully calibrated not to offend anybody.
  18. Reviewed by: Tomas Hachard
    Jun 15, 2013
    The film is most interesting as an articulation of how its main character's initial status as an emblem of inter-religious understanding quickly dissolves following a suicide bombing.
  19. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jun 20, 2013
    A gripping, personal examination of a seemingly unresolvable conflict.
  20. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Jun 18, 2013
    Imagine a male Lifetime movie fueled by Middle Eastern tensions, and you’d have Ziad Doueiri’s torn-from-Tel-Aviv’s-headlines melodrama, one which drops its handsome husband of a hero into a domestic nightmare.
  21. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Jun 19, 2013
    All the same, as dramatized here, The Attack skirts perilously close to being an apologia for suicide bombing.
  22. Reviewed by: Leba Hertz
    Aug 8, 2013
    There's nothing new here about the conflict, but the film portrays the two sides fairly - both right, both wrong. Overall, The Attack is thought-provoking, even if it doesn't address how to solve the problem. We'll probably never know the answer in our lifetime.
  23. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jul 31, 2013
    At its best when making the political personal, the film’s exposure of a husband’s enduring mystery about his wife’s motivations has a universal appeal.
  24. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Jun 20, 2013
    Despite a remarkable performance by Suliman, who’s almost never off-camera, events become increasingly pat and implausible, with one explanatory scene played like a shadowy variation on Kevin Spacey’s monologue in “Se7en.”
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Sep 12, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. So articulate, so precocious, and most scarily, so proselytized by ideology, this young Palestinian girl is, in Jenin Jenin(the 2003 documentary about the aftermath of a levelled West Bank refugee camp by the Israeli army), that the little moppet comes across as an actor in a propaganda film. The Battle of Jenin, what the widowed doctor's brother-in-law says was the pivotal event that militarized his Christian and assimilated sister, in The Attack, killed 52 of her fellow countrymen, when the Israelis deployed commando forces, assault helicopters, and armored bulldozers indiscriminately on men, women, and children. Amid the ruins, staring into the camera's eye, the young girl doesn't blink, as she expels a rhetoric that implicates Jenin as the launch site for terrorist activities against Israel, therefore invalidating the notion of baffled innocence by the other interviewees. "Fighting the enemy, this doesn't mean I'm cruel. I defend my people," says the steely young lady, an apologia which befits the terrorist, including Siham, the doctor's wife, who, despite walking into a Tel Aviv restaurant with a bomb, is otherwise, the kind and loving woman we see in flashbacks. "And we used to say our women still exist," the Jenin survivor recalls wistfully, the sort of woman like Salma, a farmer, in Eran Riklis' Lemon Tree, who endures the abuse imposed by her new neighbor, where in the final scene, we see a lemon grove, debased by a totalitarian policy, and a wall, separating the non-violent crusader from the Israeli Defense Minister. Looking towards the future, the would-be suicide bomber adds, "They'll become stronger and braver than ever," or in other words, this charismatic child, unlike Siham, who lived peacefully among the Jews, won't make the same concessions as her fictitious counterpart, a collaborator, some would say, because she arrives as a fully-fledged ideologue, spared the intervention of Christians, who make allowances for subjugation as a means to maintain the peace. An uncompromising extremist, stating so on the record about her great disdain for the Israelis, she won't need a whole lot of convincing, one would suspect, when it's her turn to be strong and brave, a martyr for the cause. Fearless and steeped in nationalistic pride, one wishes that the Christians reached out to this goner. At an early age, one surmises, the Christians got to Siham, but too much collateral damage, evidently, along the way, spirited the Jesus out of her heart. The sleeper cell in Tel Aviv, not so coincidentally, launches the preliminaries of their plan on the night that Siham's husband, an apolitical surgeon, receives a lifetime achievement award in medicine. These terrorists, pragmatic killers with a flair for irony, can't reconcile the idea of an Arab saving Israeli lives, when for generations, Arab lives weather an inherited degradation, a degradation seemingly compounding itself since no end to the occupation is in sight. With their identities saddled by an unwarranted hyphenation(Arab-Israeli), and their land, expropriated land, according to the Palestinians, Siham, like so many fundamentalists, feel that they have no choice but to turn the stolen land into bloody land. Siham, albeit not the blank slate like "She", the female suicide bomber in Day Night Day Night, who prays to an enigmatic "him", en route to blowing up Times Square, all the viewer has by way of passage into her compromised headspace is a maddeningly vague suicide letter. To Amin, she writes, "No child is safe if it has no country," a concept derived from the "eye for an eye" form of repercussive punishment, which the Qur'an asserts is reserved for the Children of Israel. Even a pacifist such as Emad Burmat, a local guerilla filmmaker in 5 Broken Cameras, finally admits that "clinging to nonviolent ideas isn't easy," after a 17-year old boy is gunned down by soldiers in a neighboring village. What will be Emad's breaking point before he trades in his sedimentary projectiles for household bombs? At the Jenin site, we see the words "Ground Zero", an iconographic pronouncement that has the look of an anachronism, since the graffiti is written in English, not Arabic. Meant to evoke 9/11, the English is for an American audience, the same Americans who asked, "Why do they hate us?" following that fateful day in 2001. Unlike us, the Palestinians, arguably, have a legitimate gripe, not a naive one, when they ask that same question, since they're the colonized, not the colonizers. They attack from the vantage point of an underdog. In Hany Abu-Assad's Paradise Now, the handler assures Said and Khaled that an angel will meet them on the other side. Only Said goes through with the plan, perhaps, because of his inexperience with earthly pleasures. He seems like a boy around Suha. But Siham is a female. There will be much confusion among the 72 virgins in heaven when they meet her, a woman in drag. Full Review »
  2. Feb 9, 2014
    A reviewer wrote, "The film is particularly affective at conveying the senselessness of trying to make sense of a conflict that has gainedA reviewer wrote, "The film is particularly affective at conveying the senselessness of trying to make sense of a conflict that has gained nothing beyond a vast waste of human life." This reviewer failed to get the powerful point. Western people whose thinking is based upon Enlightenment thinking, namely, statement of principles, logic, evidence, and modifying the principles based upon the evidence, cannot understand Arab mentality. I lived in Israel for several years. The Arab accepts certain principles and their conclusions, but ignores evidence and reality. When we use the word senseless we are the senseless people for refusing to educate pre-Enlightenment people to modern rational thinking.

    Our hero visited Shechem, translated into English as Nablus, and visited a priest, who could not condemn suicide. This part of the story does not agree with my experience. Christians are not suicide killers, only members of the Islam faith. Bethlehem, where the Christian god was born, used to have a majority of Christians. The Moslems drove them out. Look at the numerical facts.

    Otherwise, the language, people, and scenery very accurately portrayed modern Israel.

    The powerful point is that since the Arabs do not employ modern rational thinking, they use emotions that are extremely powerful. The film gives an excellent feel of these powerful emotions. One of the very best I have ever seen. Once we ignore rational thinking and evidence, we can be subject to powerful, deadly forces. The lesson is that we must not give up hope, but keep struggling for rationality.
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 22, 2013
    Women make the best suicide bombers. They receive more media attention and generate greater mass hysteria. If they can kill innocent children,Women make the best suicide bombers. They receive more media attention and generate greater mass hysteria. If they can kill innocent children, this creates the best publicity possible. The Attack, a film by Ziad Doueiri deals with such suicide bombing connected to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The story is told in such a powerful and inventive way that I left the theatre feeling as if my emotional center had been extracted, run over by a train, and then transplanted back inside. One way I seem to judge how good a film is is by how bad it makes me feel.

    After seeing The Attack I thought immediately of Paradise Now (2005). It has the same lead actor and both films involve Tel Aviv bombings, but while Paradise Now’s suspense is generated by mystery involved in the story’s unfolding climaxing in a mega-unsettller of an ending, The Attack gives away all its plot secrets in the first act. The major conflict of the film takes place early. Climax hit, mystery solved, we are out to examine why the events happened. The film opens with the protagonist’s highest moment, so from here down is the only way to go.

    Amin Jaafari, an ultra-successful Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv receives a career achievement award. In his acceptance speech he praises a non-existent armistice of hostility between the Arab world and Israel. The irony of this speech is played out over and over again as he suffers blow after blow demonstrating the error of his judgment.

    There is a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and Jaafari’s wife disappears. She has forgotten her cell phone. All things lighting, photography and mood point to “oh no, she’s been killed.” Shockingly, not only has she been killed, she was actually responsible; She was the bomber. Married for 15 years, Jaafari tries to persuade others that he knew his wife well, that she could never do anything so terrible; we spend very little time wondering or investigating the trivialities of whether or not she did the deed. He gets a letter that was mailed before the bombing. It admits to the bombing and pleads, “Don’t hate me.”

    This secret disclosed, Jaafari goes to Palestine to track down the people who organized her suicide. What we find out in Palestine is a wrenching tale of Jaafari’s own search for answers. He tries to come to terms with his wife as a mass murderer while at the same time still being madly in love with her. The more he mourns, the bigger the atrocity of his wife’s deed becomes, and ever the more realistic.

    Jaafari’s fall from grace is a vivid representation that tragedy can strike at any time, to anyone. After seeing this film we are left with a striking awareness of our own vulnerability. Seeing an affluent, successful surgeon being betrayed by his wife, his family, his profession, and both of his home states leaves little hope for those of us that are less successful, non-surgeons.

    Jaafari’s was ignorant. He disregarded all the signs, saw only what he wanted to see, and this contributed to his ultimate demise, but he was not exceptionally oblivious, nor was he in any way malicious or evil. He was human. We leave theatres hopefully trying not to make the same mistakes.
    Full Review »