False Flag (Kfulim) promotional image with Ania Bukstein as Asia Brinditch, Angel Bonanni as Sean Tilson, Magi Azarzar as Natalie Elfassia, Ishai Golan as Ben Rephael and Orna Salinger as Emma Lippman

False Flag (Kfulim) is a fast-paced, twisty Israeli series now playing on Hulu, and is also the basis for a remake, entitled Suspicion, on AppleTV+. One morning, a news report announces that 5 Israeli citizens recently kidnapped Iranian Defense Minister Qasem Soleimani (Fares Hananya)  from Moscow. Although the security footage is too grainy to see faces, the news shows passport photos of the five, all of whom are shocked to discover that they are under suspicion. However, none of them have a great alibi for the timeframe. Naturally, we find out that they all have secrets, but aren’t necessarily guilty of this crime. The show reveals information slowly, so the audience is never sure of the truth until the end. False Flag delivers shocking cliffhangers and unexpected twists that will keep you hitting “next episode” late into the night.

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The Five Suspects

Chemist Ben Rephael (Ishai Golan) is married with one daughter and a baby on the way. On the day in question, he was in London, having a brief affair with mousy English tutor Emma Lipman (Orna Salinger), also implicated. Ben, who could have made the nerve gas used in the kidnapping, claims he is innocent, but doesn’t want his wife to know where he was. Kindergarten teacher Asia Brinditch (Ania Bukstein) was indeed in Moscow, but visiting family. She thinks it’s funny that she is all over the news, and uses the publicity to score free drinks at bars. Accountant Natalie Elfassia (Magi Azarzar) was at a women’s retreat in Paris. With her stony silence, the only way Shin Bet (FBI) agent Eitan Kopel (Miki Leon) can get her to talk is to threaten to arrest her fiancé, lawyer Yuval Harari (Roy Assaf). Hippie Sean Tilson (Angel Bonanni) was traversing India, playing his guitar and singing for the ladies. On the day of the arrest, he is on a flight back to Israel. When he gets an inflight call warning him that cops are waiting at the airport, he shaves his beard and hair, poses as a businessman, and sneaks off the plane.

The Plot

“False Flag” is a term from the naval battle days when ships would fly the flag of their enemies to trick them into getting close enough to fire on them. The Israeli passports indicate that the Mossad is behind the kidnapping. But they deny it. Was it the Russians? The Iranians, who suspected the minister of defecting? A key clue is that mid-flight phone call to Sean Tilson. Turns out he works for industrialist Gabi Silver (Igal Naor), who is secretly selling Israeli weapons to Iran. Gabi denies being part of the kidnapping, but Sean thinks he’s lying and is worried Gabi will frame him. As Eitan pursues his investigation, we begin to see why the passports of these particular people were used. But he still can’t figure out who is behind the op. Meanwhile, Sean is doing everything he can, including killing people, to evade authorities. Eventually, all five suspects end up in an isolated farmhouse together, where the tension ratchets up to level 10.

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Our take on False Flag

False Flag is expertly woven together to maximize suspense without feeling like it’s cheating. While the series is stripped down, it’s also densely plotted. You’ll have to pay attention to follow along. Unlike most American shows, the creators aren’t afraid to allow their characters to have bad tempers, unattractive personality traits, and even murderous tendencies. Yet, we still root for them. Some of that is the excellent acting. Angel Bonanni as Sean Tilson is a standout, moving from dim hunk to cold-eyed killer in the blink of an eye. But it’s the cliffhangers and the twists that really grab you. I promise you won’t see some of them coming. (Do yourself a favor and don’t read the episode descriptions in advance) We’ll see if UK remake Suspicion can hold a candle to False Flag.

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