Entebbe – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: José Padilha
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl, Eddie Marsan, Ben Schnetzer, Lior Ashkenazi, Denis Ménochet
In cinemas May 11th
People of a certain age may well remember the hijacking depicted in this film which occurred in 1976 when Palestinian and German terrorists hijacked an Air France flight en route to Paris. I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the story, however, as it was a bit before my time. I vaguely remember hearing it referred to as an aside in various history documentaries but I had no real knowledge of the impact of the events going into this film. In case you’re wondering the title is the name of the Ugandan Airport where they held their hostages for the duration of the incident.
You’ve probably gathered that this isn’t the cheeriest of films. It is intense from the off although the opening which features a modern dance piece, that is supposed to be representative of the struggle between Palestine and Israel, sets a rather odd tone.
We pretty much get straight to the hijacking though and subsequently are bombarded with political facts and back stories to justify the terrorists actions. Perhaps there is so much exposition because the filmmakers are concerned that people won’t remember the story and they may be right. However, it really does drag the film down in parts and distract from the main story.
That said there is not a lot of action or excitement in a seven day hostage situation. Many of the scenes are just people sitting around in an airport questioning why Israel hasn’t yet met their demands. There is a poignant scene where a holocaust survivor becomes panicked by the conditions but these moments are few and far between.
This boasts and excellent cast and Daniel Brühl is always worth watching and he is no exception here. He just isn’t given a lot to do other than spout political beliefs and look pained that he was misled about the plan. Ditto for Rosamund Pike who is woefully underused and often feels like the token female bad guy.
Juxtaposing it with the aforementioned dance show (which one of the Israeli soldier’s girlfriends is participating in) is an odd choice that leaves the movie feeling disjointed in places. The only justification for it seems to be to give the character of the soldier, who is apparently Benjamin Netanyahu who is now the Prime Minister of Israel, some screentime. But I had no idea who he was supposed to be until the fact he is now Prime Minister popped up in the credits.
Overall, this is a bit of a mess. It is extremely politicised, frequently states the obvious and doesn’t really seem to know what it is trying to say about the events. I was unsure if I was supposed to feel empathy or anger towards the terrorists so vaguely is it written.
The violence is also incredibly downplayed. You could be forgiven for thinking this was the most civilised hijacking in history and even the final rescue effort is shot is stylish slow motion.
This misses an opportunity to properly tell the story of these events which were an incredibly significant moment in the history of Israeli and Palestinian relations. It is not sure what message it is trying to convey and feels quite disjointed in many places. It is interesting from the point of view of finding out more about the hijacking but not gritty or engaging enough given the subject matter. Extremely tepid it feels longer than its 107 minute running time.