Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Movie Review: 7 Days in Entebbe

7 Days in Entebbe ** / *****
Directed by: José Padilha.
Written by: Gregory Burke.
Starring: Rosamund Pike (Brigitte Kuhlmann), Daniel Brühl (Wilfried Böse), Lior Ashkenazi (Yitzhak Rabin), Eddie Marsan (Shimon Peres), Ben Schnetzer (Zeev Hirsch), Nonso Anozie (Idi Amin),Denis Ménochet (Jacques Le Moine), Peter Sullivan (Amos Eran), Juan Pablo Raba (Juan Pablo), Angel Bonanni (Yonatan Netanyahu),Mark Ivanir (Motta Gur),Andrea Deck (Patricia Martel), Brontis Jodorowsky (Captain Michel Bacos), Vincent Riotta (Dan Shomron), Noof McEwan (Al Arja).
For a movie that begins with a plane hijacking and ends with a daring military raid by Israeli soldiers invading an airport in Uganda, 7 Days in Entebbe is a surprisingly dull movie. It tells the true story of what happened when some German revolutionaries teamed up with a Palestinian organization to hijack an Air France plane flying out of Tel Aviv, and tried to use those hostages as leverage to get the Israelis to release some of their political prisoners. They held the hostages for a week at an airport in Uganda – with Idi Amin’s full co-operation. The film flashes back and forth between what is happening on the ground in Uganda, and what is happening in the backrooms of political power in Israel – when discussions hinge on whether to break from the longstanding policy against negotitating with terrorists, or whether to conduct the risky military operation.
All of this probably sounds exciting – I will admit, I saw the movie despite the not glowing reviews, mainly because you can cut an exciting looking trailer out of the film. And yet, somehow the film never really reaches takeoff velocity. The director is the talented Brazlian filmmaker Jose Padilha – whose clearly knows how to shoot action sequences – but on the basis on this film, doesn’t know how to shoot much else. The screenplay – which is fully of heavy handed explanatory dialogue – certainly doesn’t help matters.
What we’re basically left with then is a group of mainly talented actors who pretty much have to explain themselves in every scene. The film goes out of its way to be fair to all sides – something that is often a good thing, but here pretty much makes 7 Days in Entebbe into the Switzerland of movies – bland and neutral.
For the hijackers, the film mainly focuses on the two Germans – Brigitte and Wilfried (Rosamund Pike and Daniel Bruhl), who are capable enough to pull off the hijacking, but don’t really think through the consequences of what comes next – or what may happen if Israel won’t negotitate. Wilfried is an idealist who cannot stand the fact that the Jewish passengers see them as Nazis (“Of course they do” Brigitte tells him “We’re Germans rounding up Jews”). Both had lives at home, but sacrifice everything for this – for reasons they really don’t seem to understand. On the Israeli side, the main conflict seems to be between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (the great Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi) and his Secretary of Defense Shimon Peres (Eddie Marasan – a great actor hidden behind too much makeup). Rabin wants to negotiate, Peses does not. But can they really pull off such a strange mission. Oddly, the film doesn’t pay that much attention to the actual Palestinian men who are among the hostage takers – only one of them gets any kind of backstory, and even that feels tossed in for good measure.
Padilha is a talented director of action – and the final raid is the highlight of the film. It is intercut with a dance number that he returns to time and again throughout the film, which is also thrilling to see. The action and the number don’t really work together – whatever point Padilha is making by putting them in the same sequence is never clear – but as pure filmmaking, they’re something to see.
Overall though, the movie just feels lifeless and dull. No body in the film feels like anything except a talking head, espousing ideology until it’s finally time for action. When it arrives, it’s nowhere near enough to make the movie worthwhile.

No comments:

Post a Comment