Review: 7 Days in Entebbe

7 Days in Entebbe
7 10

PLOT: The true story of Operation Entebbe, an Israeli rescue mission to free the passengers of Air France Flight 139, where two German nationals (Daniel Bruhl & Rosamund Pike), working with the PLO, hijacked the flight and took the passengers to Uganda, where the Israelis were held for ransom.

REVIEW: 7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE finds director Jose Padilha working in a milieu that seems to fit him a lot better than his recent, big-budget ROBOCOP remake. Adhering more to the style of his ELITE SQUAD films and his work on “Narcos”, this straightforward docudrama doesn’t really deliver anything that you haven’t seen before but is nonetheless a satisfying depiction of an exciting historical event.

The Entebbe rescue has actually been depicted several times on screen, with a pair of 1970’s TV movies (VICTORY AT ENTEBBE and the more famous RAID ON ENTEBBE starring Charles Bronson, Yaphet Kotto and Peter Finch) and an early Israeli Cannon Films production, OPERATION THUNDERBOLT, which paved the way for director Menahem Golan to move to the U.S when it copped a best foreign film Oscar nod in 1977.

Certainly, this is the most high-end, balanced depiction to date, as it tries to get inside the heads of both the Palestinian hijackers and the two Germans, played by Daniel Bruhl and Rosamund Pike, who, in a daring move, are essentially the leads. While I wouldn’t say Padilha’s film goes too far in sympathizing with them, given that they were still murderous hijackers at the end of the day, he does at least try to get inside their mindset and depict their utter naiveté. Bruhl’s character, a German bookseller named Wilfried Böse, gets the most three-dimensional portrayal, with it shown that he’s an absolute dilettante who’s somehow surprised when his Jewish victims consider him a Nazi, as he thinks of himself as anti-Fascist. That Bruhl gives off a naturally sympathetic vibe makes the character an intriguing one.

By contrast, Rosamund Pike’s Brigitte Kuhlmann is more unhinged, being hopped up on speed post-hijacking and getting-off too much on intimidating the passengers, but even she’s not depicted as a total monster. Pike excels at playing baddies, as seen to great effect in GONE GIRL, but she dials it down here. Again, you never sympathize with them, but you at least understand what motivated them, even if their actions are beyond reprieve.

Their story takes up about two thirds of the film, while the rest is spent in Israel, with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (Israeli super-star Lior Ashkenazi), who favors a peaceful resolution, butting heads with defense minister Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan – sporting distracting eye prosthetics) who advocates an assault by the IDF. Meanwhile, Ben Schnetzer plays a young IDF recruit training for the mission, although his story, where he has to juggle his responsibilities to the army and to his girlfriend is the one that works the least and comes off as totally extraneous.

For the most part, Padilha’s film is straight-forward and workman-like, with it seeming like a high-end TV drama (not that there’s anything wrong with that) until his one big, bold move, which is to integrate a modern dance component via Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company. While this may sound a bit pretentious, it works remarkably well, with the film opening and closing with routines, and the big commando raid being intercut with their “Minus 16” performance, something that’s odd but has an undeniable visceral kick. It’s the chanciest move, but it’s the part of the movie that works the best.

While not an awards-caliber drama, and a bit too by-the-numbers to really capture a big audience theatrically, 7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE is still a solid docu-drama and is worth checking out for history buffs. It would make a really good Netflix watch for anyone else. It’s a good but not great film, and a solid depiction of an event that still has a lot of relevance over forty years later.

Source: JoBlo.com



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