Did Ashraf Marwan jump, or was he pushed? Not his fall off the balcony of his luxury apartment in London in July 2007, which is how Marwan, an Egyptian diplomat turned billionaire, met his unexplained and highly suspicious death, but his tumble into the arms of the Mossad, into whose tender embraces he slipped in 1970.
At the time, Marwan was also in the even more tender embraces of Mona Nasser, daughter of Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser. After Nasser’s death in 1970, Marwan became a close aide to Anwar Sadat, and brokered military and diplomatic deals with the Saudis and Gaddafi’s Libya. All the while, Marwan was supplying top-grade intelligence to a Mossad contact in London, while dodging surveillance by Nasser’s old advisers. In October 1973, Marwan warned his handler that the Egyptians were about to launch a surprise attack across the Suez Canal. The extra hours were crucial to Israel’s survival in the early stages of the Yom Kippur War, especially on the Golan Heights, where Syrian tanks nearly broke through on the second day of fighting.
The Angel, a new Netflix original directed by Ariel Vroman (Iceman) tells us more about how Marwan spied for his country’s greatest enemy than why he did it. Not that he lacks for motives. But, as in intelligence gathering, it’s hard to sort the static from the signal. And, as in intelligence analysis, it’s harder to weigh the accuracy of the information. Still, it’s intelligently made and played, with plenty of plotting, tension and sports cars.
Marwan (Marwan Kenzari) does not lack for motives. When he suggests at an Egyptian embassy dinner that Egypt might recover the Sinai from Israel without war, by switching from Soviet to American patronage, Nasser (Waleed Zuaiter) humiliates him. Nor does Nasser care for his precocious insight that the Soviets are doomed to lose the Cold War.