Cast: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Bruhl, Lior Ashkenazi, Mark Ivanir
Director: Jose Padilha
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: A gripping thriller inspired by the true events of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight en route from Tel Aviv to Paris, the film depicts the most daring rescue mission ever attempted
Operation Entebbe is a very interesting and historic event that took place in the heart of the Cold War and represents one of the heights of tension between Israel and Palestine. In my lifetime, the only movie that has been released that has discussed this event was The Last King of Scotland, but since that dealt with the issue from a Ugandan perspective, I was interested to see what this issue looked like from an Israeli or Palestinian one. While Pike delivers an above average performance, the film is weighed down by an uninspired story and an unclear narrative that takes away from a rather interesting series of events.
The film follows Brigitte Kuhlmann (Pike) and Wilfried Bose (Bruhl), two Germans who feel that not enough international focus is being put on the struggles of the Palestinian people in the Middle East. As a result, they hijack a plane in Athens and fly it to Entebbe, Uganda where the passengers are held hostage until the Israeli government releases 53 pro-Palestine prisoners. Seeing no other option, the Israeli government decides the only way to free their civilians is to send a group of soldiers to Uganda to rescue the group and kill their captors. The film alternates from the perspective of the Israelis, the prisoners, and the terrorists, which does not make the story very clear since it is not done effectively. Starting with the Israelis, we see the strife this hijacking has caused in Israel and how the people demand action for their loved. There is a fair amount of back and forth within the government about what to do, which works efficiently since this is a very delicate situation, but outside of that the story is very flat. They try to incorporate a storyline about a soldier going to Entebbe, but it feels incredibly out-of-place and random. I understand they want us to feel the emotional burden of what soldiers will go through, but we already have the emotional burden of the hostages, we do not need anything else. Other than that, they try to make a weird parallel between Israeli dance and the rescue mission, but it does not make any sense. Scenes from other storylines will be interrupted to show and Israeli dance scene, and these scenes are incredibly distracting and are only there for the sake of unneeded symbolism. Moving on to the hijackers, they try to show the regret that the German terrorists have for their actions as they realize they are in way over their heads. Pike and Bruhl are good enough in their roles to get by, but I do not understand why this is the perspective they chose to show us. If they were trying to go for an angle where the hijackers are confused and naive, I personally cannot buy that. Bringing guns onto a plane and threatening people’s lives is way beyond the realm of confused and naive and we should not be giving these people any sympathy. On top of this, the climax that these two are involved in uses some very shoddy slow-motion techniques to emphasize how the outcome of their actions. You know what would make a much better sequence for that? Actually building up a story so the characters are more than just young radicals looking to make a scene. Finally with hostages, we are given almost no character development for any of them. They try to make us feel bad about their situation, but that should be the default emotion we feel. It switches constantly from one group to another and we never get to learn anything about them. Maybe take some of that useless character development that was used on the Israeli soldiers and spend it more on the hostages so that their conclusion is more satisfying.
Overall, barring the performances of Pike and Bruhl, 7 Days in Entebbe was an unorganized mess. Making a film about such a complex issue is hard enough looking at it from just one angle, but writing three separate storylines requires precise and organized direction, which the film was severely lacking. While I was not expecting a film on the same level as The Last King of Scotland, it would have been nice to see another perspective on Operation Entebbe. Unfortunately now we have to wait for someone else to come along and write a new one.
Overall Score: 3/10