Netflix’s The Motive (2021) Review: A Gruesome Chronicle of A Teen Killer

The Motive is a crime documentary TV series directed and produced by Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry and is currently streaming on Netflix with a run time of 31 to 43 minutes each episode with audio in Hebrew/Arabic and subtitles in English.

Netflix describes The Motive as:

”In Jerusalem 1986, a 14-year-old boy shoots his family point-blank in their beds. Yet questions persist. In this docuseries, insiders come forward”.

– The Motive review does not contain spoilers –

The Motive series is about an underage boy living with his family members in Jerusalem. He fires a bullet at all his family members lying in their beds. The question lies in what was the motive when they were a happy family. The answers to all the questions lie inside the documentary series. 

A 14-year-old teenager got up randomly from his sleep and took out his father’s rifle as he belonged to the military force and was given to keep at home for safety and fired bullets at his parents and two sisters. This crime happened in the year 1986 and shook the nation as well as the police as a teenager was found guilty of such a heinous crime. This documentary series comprises of 4 episodes where the only survivor gives a glimpse of the tragedy that happened in the house back then and spills the beans around the mystery. 

The teen however claims to have encountered a strange thought which made him commit the crime. Through this documentary, the boy’s lawyer has come forward and given some reasons and motives behind his action. The case went on getting more mysterious as the investigation started and gave out very minimal conclusions. There have been many assumptions and hypotheses on the teenager’s mindset while doing the crime.

To date, no one could predict the true motive of the boy and have been only speculating and framing opinions based on their own understanding of the case. As the boy was a minor he was taken to psychiatrists but no concrete motive was found out or could be concluded to solve the case. The teenager’s therapists can also be seen in the documentary expressing their views and observations about this case. 

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The Motive
Image Credit: A still from The Motive Trailer.

The boy gave a statement that a green-colored monster came into his brain and forced him to kill all his family members. The boy’s lawyer comes forward in this series and makes a huge claim that the boy told a lie about the green monster and there was no such thing. Many psychologists tried to find out the mental state or the motive of the boy after this tragic incident struck in Jerusalem. But the case remains complicated and a closed book since it started.

The name of the Israeli boy was never revealed to the world as he was a minor at that time and was sent to juvenile custody. In the docuseries, the last surviving sister of the boy becomes emotional as she recalls the funeral and all the death and destruction around her. The boy reenacts his actions at the crime scene as a part of an investigation and says that he was under someone else’s control and if he was fine he would have never murdered his family.

The Motive contains statements of the boy’s girlfriend, school teacher, cops, counselors, and lawyers about the behavior of the boy. It is full of darkness, crime, blood, and murder. Overall The Motive doesn’t have any entertaining elements or vibes which makes it a dull series to watch psychologically. The direction, story, and screenplay is good attempt at showcasing an even based on true occurrence.

The Motive documentary is streaming on Netflix.

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The Motive is about a minor Israeli boy from Jerusalem who creates shock waves around the world for murdering his family members.


  1. Thanks for helping me decide to skip it. I watched The Raincoat Killer of South Korea and it was a 6/10 if only it was mildly entertaining to watch the typical 70s hot shot trope police unit leader.


    This review although true to it’s overall synopsis of being pretty much a fail, unfortunately included some inaccuracies in certain details. For one, there were no surviving sisters, thus (she) was never was in the doc. Also the young lady u claimed was the gf, was only a classmate & the biggest one of all is that no one knew or ever claimed to know the reason he committed the murders. He did state he “saw” a green entity, (w/his eyes, not in his mind)- which led him to do what he did, and the few people he told that to (after first denying any involvement at all) didnt believe him. He basically ended up being let off with a slap on the wrist due to folks ignorance, cognitive dissonance, and perhaps also that particular era.

  3. They also DID say his name from what I remember. It was Adi Adelman. I suppose in it’s effort to intrigue, the author of this review got lost a bit trying to keep up. This doc was a disappointment indeed. All good docs leave u with at least a current update on the main character, this one just leaves u feeling incomplete in many ways. So what does that tell u? Yea, skip it… imo just a waste of time.

  4. This stupid site keep deleting the rest comment so Im not gonna leave it all over again. This doc was basically a miss, ill just leave it at that! 👎

  5. Also für mich ist dieser namenlose “Junge” ein klassischer Asperger Autist. Sein auffällig erwachsenes Verhalten, sein IQ, sein vermeidender Blickkontakt und vor allem seine vollkommene Empathielosigkeit sprechen eine eigene Sprache. Ein Psychiater müsste das auch sehen. Auch wenn Missbrauch durch den Vater in dieser Familie ein Thema war, wieso sollten dann die Opfer getötet werden?
    Diese Serie lässt mich richtig wütend zurück. Sie verspricht Aufklärung, langweilt aber mit Plattitüden und unangemessenenen Bildern. Eigentlich wissen alle Bescheid, aber man muss das arme Monster ja schützen.
    Glatte 0 von 5 Sternen

  6. “A slap on the wrist”. What should be done to a 14 yr old boy who dispatches his family of 4 – motive or not? In America this matter would have been handled in juvenile court.

    • There are plenty of young offenders who are charged as adults for their crimes in America. He would have been charged as an adult, especially since he never provided any mitigating circumstances.

  7. It seems the entire justice system in Israel handled this case with “kid gloves”. The offender served only a few years in minimum security facilities, then was allowed to inherit his parents’ property (!) and get on with his life. Just imagine how different the punishment would have been if he had committed his crimes in any of the Muslim countries (e.g. Iran or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, etc.) or Russia or China. He would have been executed following a very speedy trial. Strangely, it also seems that the boy’s unwillingness to offer any explanation or rationale for his actions actually seemed to work in his favor, with all concerned finally throwing up their hands and just defaulting to the most minimal punishment imaginable under the circumstances. I wish the filmmakers had probed a little more persistently with the boy’s attorney, whose coy responses regarding his supposed knowledge of the real motives for the crime become more and more annoying every time he appears in the documentary.

  8. I think the father’s work in the military had a huge negative influence on his son if he was the baby in the family he might have resented that for a long time this isn’t something you wake up and decide that day on doing, he’s probably had deep seeded issues for years if that country didn’t have such a huge gun presence he might of used a knife

  9. This was a clear case of a child with psychopathy. It has all the symptoms. Check out the case of Paris Bennett who murdered his almost toddler sister. They cannot feel any particular attachment towards anyone. And they are brutally themselves when still a child. When psychopaths grow into adults, they learn to say things which help them fit into the world and make people believe they feel love and attachment like most other people but they never do. Hence no regret in killing his entire family. The filmmaker of this docu is the exploring the reason why he did it but for psychopaths, a reason cannot be found. The smart pcyhopaths manage to stay out of prison but the really dumb psychopaths give I to their urges, they don’t regret the acts, they might regret having been caught. And to think this idiot is free and has a family.

  10. After watching this documentary, I felt angry that gave him such a light sentence. I also couldn’t stand listening to his defense lawyer who appeared to be an arrogant, self-serving man who stated he had a theory about why the kid killed his family but would never say. What a disappointment and injustice.

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The Motive is about a minor Israeli boy from Jerusalem who creates shock waves around the world for murdering his family members. Netflix's The Motive (2021) Review: A Gruesome Chronicle of A Teen Killer