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Dan's review: "7 Days in Entebbe" tries to mix art with terrorism

Mar 17, 2018 11:28AM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike in 7 Days in Entebbe - © 2018 Focus Features.

7 Days in Entebbe (Focus Features)

Rated PG-13 for violence, some thematic material, drug use, smoking and brief strong language.

Starring Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl, Lior Ashkenazi, Mark Ivanir, Denis Ménochet, Eddie Marsan, Ben Schnetzer, Peter Sullivan, Andrea Deck, Brontis Jodorowsky, Angel Bonanni, Nonso Anozie, Vincent Riotta, Yiftach Klein, Natalie Stone, Trudy Weiss, Michael Lewi, Samy Seghir, Vincent Cassel.

Written by Gregory Burke.

Directed by José Padilha.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

They don’t make terrorism films like they used to. Back in the day, terrorists were faceless, soulless rabble that spoke in strange tongues with outbursts of unbridled anger. Their causes were secondary plot devices, facilitating the conflict necessary for action heroes to save the day. While some have tried to portray the “other side” of global (mostly Middle Eastern) struggles of late, few have captured wide acclaim or box office since the days when Arnold Schwarzenegger or Chuck Norris made waste of guys wearing turbans and sporting AK-47s. A new angle on such struggles comes in the form of 7 Days in Entebbe, a historical recounting of the hijack of Air France Flight 149 in 1976, which prompted a daring Israeli commando rescue in Uganda.

History tell us that two German leftists joined with Palestinian militants to hijack a flight from Athens, landing in Benghazi, Libya for refueling and then taking their hostages (many of them Jewish) to Uganda, where the eccentric and brutal dictator Idi Amin (Nonso Anozie) harbored them. The Germans were Brigitte Kuhlman (Rosamund Pike) and Wilifried Böse (Daniel Brühl), two socialist revolutionaries who desperately wanted to make a societal difference. The pair joined with two Palestinians to carry out the caper (in a time when no one checked your carry-on luggage) with the intent of using the Israeli hostages to demand the release of Palestinian terrorists in Israel’s custody. After landing at the Entebbe Airport, the terrorists make their demands to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi), who struggles with the country’s long-standing policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. As Rabin mulls over his options, Defense Minister Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan) plans a commando raid to surprise the captors and free the hostages. After a lot of pressure from both sides of the argument (negotiation vs. rescue), Rabin finally approves the raid, which goes off with minimal casualties, except for the Amin’s Ugandan soldiers, the terrorists, a few unlucky hostages and one Israeli soldier (who happened to be the brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) caught in the crossfire.

7 Days in Entebbe does an effective job of covering the finer points of the historic event, with a smattering of expositional dialogue regarding Middle Eastern issues (that continue to plague the world). There’s also plenty of reverence for the Israeli victors, who defied the odds and pulled off one of the most audacious raids in military history. The movie doesn’t seem to take a side of the Middle Eastern problem and successfully portrays the Palestinians as complex humans, rather than the faceless rabble seen in action movies of the past. The moments where terrorists and Israelis wax poetic about the never-ending conflict bring a little context to the issue, even though the characters often overstate the obvious. An Israeli dance troupe performs a throughout the movie (one dancer is the girlfriend of one of the commandos) adding a little artistry and pacing, especially during the climactic raid scene. Including interpretive dance in a movie about a terrorist hijacking places 7 Days in Entebbe into more of an art film than an action genre.

The cast is more than adequate, with Marsan playing Peres as a stalwart defender of his homeland and Brühl as a terrorist who struggles with his motivation. Pike’s performance is  less convincing, opting for her patented “crazy eye” stare that adds more melodrama than I’d prefer, especially during one particularly unnecessary monologue right before the movie’s final act.

7 Days in Entebbe is successful as a work of cinematic art, but less so as a catalyst for historic understanding, or hope, for any kind of resolution for peace.


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