Friday, March 30, 2018

Movie Review: "7 Days in Entebbe" (2018)

Director: José Padilha
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

A group of terrorists hijack an Air France plane and fly it to Entebbe, Uganda where passengers are taken hostage as the "revolutionaries" demand the release of their fellow "freedom fighters" from Israeli prisons.

Apparently, the best way to explain serious sociopolitical issues like terrorism, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the Holocaust is through interpretive dance. That appears to be the belief of "7 Days in Entebbe" director José Padilha. Padilha is best known for directing the 2014 remake of "Robocop," as well as a couple episodes of the Netflix series "Narcos." The screenplay is written by Gregory Burke, who was nominated for a BAFTA for his work on the film "'71." "7 Days in Entebbe" is based on true events that took place in 1976, though it admittedly fudges a few facts, conversations, and characters for dramatic effect. The film stars Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike as German terrorists Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann. They have joined a terrorist group (though they call themselves "freedom fighters") who fights against Israel's occupation of Palestine. They claim Israel is a fascist government that is doing to the Palestinian people what the Nazis did to the Jews during WWII. These two Germans, along with fellow terrorists from Palestine, hijack an Air France plane that initially took off from Tel-Aviv (though they personally boarded in Greece). They take the plane to Entebbe, Uganda where they keep the passengers as their hostage (thanks to dictator Idi Amin's hospitality) and demand that the Israeli government negotiate for their release. Meanwhile, the Israeli defense minister (Eddie Marsan) is planning a risky military operation that could free the hostages and kill the terrorists as well as prevent negotiations.
 Even if you have a decent political message, hijacking a plane full of people and taking them hostage automatically puts you on the wrong side of the argument. (Image Source)
We have seen our fair share of movies about terrorism and hostage situations. These types of films are naturally very intriguing and can even be a little thrilling. Unfortunately, this is not true for "7 Days in Entebbe." This movie is a complete slog. It is flat out boring. There's nothing the actors can do to make it better despite giving solid performances. We were never pulled into the story at any point. It's an interesting take to dedicate so much time to trying to let the audience understand the point of view of the terrorists. Burke and Padilha are of the mindset that stories aren't always so black and white, that there are valid points to be made on both sides. Still, one side involves kidnapping civilians and threatening people's lives, which automatically puts them on the shit side of the equation. Any retaliation against these awful people would be justified and applauded no matter what their motivations or point of view. The intended message seems to be that without negotiation, there can be no peace. What plays out on the screen, however, is that military force and strategic planning, along with shooting terrorists in the head, is what actually saves the day, not peace talks and negotiations.
Training, sans dancing. (Image Source)
Another big problem we have with "7 Days in Entebbe" is its constant use of interpretive modern dance as an unnecessary plot device. It is used multiple times throughout the movie. In the first few seconds, we are greeted by a dance that includes a female dancer falling on her face repeatedly as part of its choreography. Meanwhile, there is important text on the screen that sets up the political climate and situations that led to the hijacking of the Air France plane. BigJ nearly forgot to read this information because the dancing was so damn distracting. Later, this same dance sequence is interwoven with the climactic assault as Israeli soldiers ambush the terrorists under the cover of night. This juxtaposition never works. It serves no purpose and is grating and irritating to sit through over and over.
Oh yeah, Idi Amin plays a minor role in this movie, but he comes and goes infrequently. (Image Source)
Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike, hell, just about every actor in this movie is better than this. We almost feel like there's a better movie hidden somewhere on the cutting room floor but this final version is so bad that we don't care enough to see it. If there is a documentary about this subject matter, watch that instead of the boring slog that is "7 Days in Entebbe."

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.4/10
RT Rating: ~23%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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