“God’s Slave” (“Esclavo de Dios”)
Ahmed and David
Inspired by true events, “God’s Slave” is the story of Ahmed and David, two extremist characters, one Islamic and the other Jewish, who cross their paths while being in the opposite side of the conflict in the A.M.I.A bombings that took place in 1994 in Buenos Aires.
“God’s Slave” was directed by Joel Novoa and written by Fernando Butazzoni. It is a story that is filled with suspense and it comes from the humanity and understanding that are torn apart when two nations are at war.
Ahmed (Mohammed Al-Khaldi), a devout Muslim in Venezuela lives a seemingly charmed life as a successful doctor with a loving family. But he is burdened with the haunting memory of his principled father (often accused of being a pro-Israeli Muslim) assassinated before his eyes by a masked Israeli agent. Ahmed’s path, then, is clear. He was selected willingly as a sleeper terrorist and now he bides his time and waits for the moment when he’ll be called by Allah to commit a suicide terrorist action. David (Vando Villamil) is a top Mossad agent in Argentina who is waiting to either clean up and/or prevent terrorist acts. He is a devout Jew, similarly haunted by violent actions in his past and though he also has a family that loves him, he is so obsessed with his calling to fight terrorism that he’s growing further and further away from those who care for him. These two men are dominated by past tragedies in their lives and are both on missions to destroy.
The movie places both on an inevitable collision course, allowing us to get to know and respect both men. This, if anything, is what is responsible for the suspense that keeps us on the edge of our seats. We hope and pray that they’ll find some way of reconciling that which haunts them and in so doing, avoid the inevitable confrontation that could mean death for both of them and possibly many others. To make the movie even more special are what we learn about each man and his inner conflicts that betray their respective personal struggles with the dualities that nag at both of them.
We are taken on an excruciating journey with both men and all the more so, as sides and motivations become blurred by their respective obsessions. Both men are, to varying degrees, slaves of God. This places equal weight and emphasis on both characters which better allows us to experience their similarities and differences. We get to fully appreciate how one man allows his devotion to God get in the way of what really allows him to be one with God, while the other is so entrenched in God’s slavery that he’s unable to ascertain the difference between God’s Word and man’s.
When we first start watching or at least for me I had the feeling that I had seen this all before but I was very wrong. A young Muslim’s hatred is sharpened by the tragedy he suffered as a child. The Israeli official’s anti-terrorism efforts stem from an attack he witnessed decades earlier. Each man, driven by vengeance and a devotion to the God he worships, embarks on a mission to end what the other stands for. There’s a good guy, a bad guy, a climactic take down, and a happy ending. But it was not so simple.
Director Novoa transforms a seemingly open-and-shut political thriller into a moving and nuanced portrayal of commitment and crusade. Based on true events, “God’s Slave” accepts an even bigger challenge than to create a poignant film. Novoa’s work has a responsibility to the victims and survivors of religious extremist acts around the world. It’s this shouldered reverence that isolates each scene as the moment it represents. Every action, every line, every glance alludes to a past that threatens to repeat itself. Novoa’s awareness of such significance cast his result in an affecting light that eclipsed the setting in which I absorbed it and I became both a terrorist and a victim, as unsure of whose crusade to champion as I was surprised by my conflicting loyalty.