Netflix’s Upcoming Middle East Thriller Series “Messiah” is Raising Eyebrows

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In Netflix’s new show Messiah, we see a prophet who defies a resurgent Islamic State in Syria. A shooting on Jerusalem's sacred Temple Mount. And, of course, the coming of you know who.

By: Franklin DeMosky

Put a show about the messiah on around the holidays season — and say a bunch of controversial things about him — and sure enough, you’ve got controversy.

In Netflix’s new show Messiah, we see a prophet who defies a resurgent Islamic State in Syria. A shooting on Jerusalem’s sacred Temple Mount. And, of course, the coming of you know who.

Launching on January 1, Messiah “imagines how modern society would react if such a figure appeared, spreading his message rapidly via social media in a world grappling with “fake news” and breathless 24-hour bulletins,” according to yahoo.com. “The question of whether the character — played by Belgian actor Mehdi Dehbi — is the genuine Messiah, a nefarious political agent or simply a trickster is at the heart of the show’s premise.”

“Yes it’s provocative — the show is provocative,” said its creator, Michael Petroni, to AFP. “But provocative isn’t offensive. It was such an audacious concept, you know?” he said. “You read the pilot, this guy is going to march 2,000 Palestinian Syrians across the border of Israel.”

Here’s how Netflix describes the show on its web site: “When CIA officer Eva Geller (Michelle Monaghan) uncovers information about a man (Mehdi Dehbi) gaining international attention through acts of public disruption, she begins an investigation into his origins. As he continues to cultivate followers who allege he’s performing miracles, the global media become increasingly beguiled by this charismatic figure.

Geller must race to unravel the mystery of whether he really is a divine entity or a deceptive con artist capable of dismantling the world’s geopolitical order. As the story unfolds, multiple perspectives are interwoven including that of an Israeli intelligence officer (Tomer Sisley), a Texas preacher (John Ortiz) and his daughter (Stefania LaVie Owen), a Palestinian refugee (Sayyid El Alami) and the journalist (Jane Adams) who covers the story. The series also stars Melinda Page Hamilton, Wil Traval, Fares Landoulsi, Dermot Mulroney and Beau Bridges.

“Created by Michael Petroni (The Book Thief), directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) and Kate Woods (Rectify), and executive produced by Petroni, McTeigue, Andrew Deane (The Double), Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (The Bible Series, Ben Hur), the Netflix original series MESSIAH is a provocative and suspenseful thriller that explores the power of influence and belief in the social media age.

The cast includes Michelle Monaghan as Eva Geller, Mehdi Dehbi as al-Masih, Tomer Sisley as Aviram, John Ortiz as Felix Iguero and Melinda Page Hamilton as Anna Iguero.

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