‘7 Days In Entebbe’ Review: Dir. José Padilha (2018)


7 Days In Entebbe review: José Padilha directs this new feature, inspired by the true events of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight en route from Tel Aviv to Paris

7 Days In Entebbe review by Paul Heath, February 2018.

7 Days In Entebbe review
7 Days In Entebbe review

From Elite Squad and the Robocop remake director José Padilha comes this drama-thriller that has more in common with his work on the Netflix series Narcos that anything else in his back-catalogue.

It’s 1976 and an Air France jet traveling from Tel Aviv to Paris has been hijacked by members of the German Revolutionary Cells and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations. Daniel Bruhl and Rosamund Pike are the two German revolutionaries Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann that take the flight with all 248 passengers on board, diverting it to Benghazi in Libya before heading for the planned destination, Entebbe Airport in central Uganda. They ask for the release of 40 Palestinian and affiliated militants imprisoned in Israel and 13 prisoners in four other countries in exchange for the hostages, who they will execute, starting with the children within days.

Related: U: July 22 review [Berlinale]

Flash to the Israeli cabinet who are attempting to come up with a solution to the taking – led by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi) and defence minister Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan), who are butting heads over how to tackle the intensifying situation, the former looking at potentially giving into their demands and the latter opposing him for fear of similar situations in the future.

The film uses flashbacks to Böse and Kuhlmann’s build-up to the event, as well as detailing the actual incident from both sides of the fence. We also go get a glimpse into the lives of a couple of the commandos tasked with carrying out the rescue mission, notable Ben Ben Schnetzer’s serving Zeev Hirsch, and his dancer girlfriend whose high-profile performance in a dancing troupe bookends the movie.

7 Days In Entebbe review
7 Days In Entebbe review

All performers serve up convincing performances, but there’s not quite enough time for each of them to provide too much depth to each of their characters. Pike and Bruhl are the stand-outs but are just two parts to a big movie puzzle that combines existing footage with that shot specifically for the movie – just like Padilha employed in the hugely successful Netflix series Narcos. Sadly, the filmmaker struggles to apply as much depth to proceedings here as he’s obviously working with a feature rather than a ten-hour drawn-out series, and the film suffers as a result.

The other element that differs from the Padiha’s previous work is the use of language, and despite apparently shooting scenes in English and German, the film largely opts for the former, key actors just using an accent – “There’s only so much you can get away with in the studio system,” Padilha is quoted in saying at this year’s Berlinale.

That said, there’s a lot to get from his latest film. With new evidence that has come to light since the previous attempts to tell the raid on ‘Entebbe’ on film – we’re talking the 1976 movie Victory at Entebbe from 1976 with Anthony Hopkins, or even Raid on Entebbe just a year later starring Peter Finch – this is well worth a visit, even if you’re aware of the outcome.

Well directed set-piece sequences, which you’d absolutely expect from all involved, and some top-notch acting play into a thrilling often tense alternative retelling of perhaps the greatest rescue mission in history.

7 Days In Entebbe review by Paul Heath, February 2018.

7 Days In Entebbe will be released as ‘Entebbe’ in the UK on 6th April, 2018.

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