Entebbe (7 Days in Entebbe) Movie Review
A suspenseful retelling of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight at the hands of a group of Pro-Palestinian terrorists/freedom fighters.
Is it a suspenseful film if we know how it ends? I think so. In the same way that Zero Dark Thirty builds to the eventual taking of Osama bin Laden by the Navy Seals, Entebbe builds from the hijacking to the eventual rescue of the Jewish passengers by Israeli commandos.
Entebbe centers around Wilfried Böse (Daniel Brühl) and Brigitte Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike) who are both members of the German left-wing Revolutionary Cells. Wilfried and Brigitte open the film boarding the flight that they will be hijacking shortly after it takes off. The plane heads for Entebbe, Uganda after a stop in Libya for refueling.
Director José Padilha tries to tell multiple stories in this film by cutting between the political conflict that happened between the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi), and his Minister of Defence Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan), as well as the point-of-view of an Israeli soldier, his dancer girlfriend, and Wilfried and Brigitte.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell a story as big as this one. And the filmmakers could have done that, telling other countries’ involvement in trying to find a solution, but instead chose to interlace the film with an often-repeated dance number that I assume is supposed to have a dramatic meaning to heighten the experience of the film. What it did for me, however, was simply annoy me that the film was cutting to the same dance sequence that we had already seen during the opening. I would have rather seen more of the scattered news reports and archival footage from the era that they used. Or to have seen a conversation between the Israeli PM and France or one of the other countries he would have interacted with during the crisis. Or even a bit more of the Palestinian terrorists that were involved in the hijacking.
The filmmaker does take leave of the actual events at times, as many films of this type do. But it still holds to the story of what occurred and the conflict on all sides, both internal and external, that must have happened during the hijacking.
I found this review quite difficult to write and I wonder if that has to do with the film and the way it jumps around. For example, at the climatic ending of the film where the Israeli commandoes storm the airport, Padilha cuts back and forth between the action of the commandoes and the dance sequence that he referenced throughout the film. The pacing of each picks up which I believe is supposed to get the hearts of the audience racing, but really it only results in taking us away from the action because we have seen the dance number numerous times. This jumping around throughout the film with flashbacks and different characters makes it difficult to find a unifying thread for the film to focus on in the review.
Even with the film being edited the way it is, I still really liked it. I found the performances across the board to be really well done. Daniel Brühl has impressed me in everything I've seen him in. Eddie Marsan as Shimon Peres oozes with personality. Even the performance of Denis Ménochet who plays the engineer on the airplane is well done. And of course, Rosamund Pike continues to display a fantastic range in her performances. From comedies to dramas, to doing a proper accent in this film. Like any good film based on historic events, Entebbe will leave you hitting up Wikipedia after leaving the cinema to learn more about this bit of history.
Yes, the film juggles around a bit in the edit and story but don't let that stop you from seeing this film. You won't feel good when leaving the cinema but you will be much more aware of both sides of the conflict between Israel and Palestine that is still ongoing.
Entebbe opens in Irish Cinemas May 11th.
Review by Milo Denison, the author of “How to Manage Your Manager” available now.