7 Days in Entebbe is nothing more than a serviceable thriller, an action film devoid of compelling action and a film that is, almost unfathomably, far outshined by Irving Kershner's 1977 Charles Bronson starring television movie that told the story in a much more involving and entertaining way.
It's an odd challenge to have the seemingly remote baggage of having seen the 1977 film when I was a mere 12-years-old, though it speaks highly of that film that it still exists so vividly within my memory. I can assure you there will be no such memories of this film, though if I'm being fair the odds that I'll even still be alive in another 40 years are slim to none.
Raid on Entebbe, the 1977 film, was a star-packed endeavor even beyond Bronson with the likes of James Woods, Peter Finch, Yaphet Kotto, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, Dinah Manoff, Robert Loggia, and others all comprising the cast. 7 Days in Entebbe may have a cast with more ethnic integrity to the story, but what the story possesses in ethnic integrity gets lost in a script by Gregory Burke that overly simplifies the story and tries so hard to find balance between all parties involved that the film ends up being a rather passionless affair.
Trust me, I've had passionless affairs. I know what I'm talking about.
There's simply no life to be found in 7 Days in Entebbe, a particularly disturbing fact considering how many lives were actually saved when Israeli commandos swarmed Uganda's main airport taking out Idi Amin's soldiers and a small group of hijackers to rescue over 100 civilian hostages in a rescue effort that continues to be regarded as one of the best ever hostage rescue efforts.
Directed by Jose Padilha (Netflix's Narcos), 7 Days in Entebbe takes an essential story and makes it feel not so essential. The film is centered, with mixed results, around the Germans terrorist hijackers acting out in support of the Palestinian cause, Wilfried Bose (Daniel Bruhl, The Alienist) and Brigitte Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl). Bruhl is the success story here, playing up Bose's modest hesitancy and inability to avoid connecting on some level with the hostages and, thus, creating an exploitable vulnerability. On the flip side, Pike is miscast, woefully miscast, as Kuhlmann, whose presence here is supposed to be the more menacing, impulsive one but whose presence in Pike is more cartoonish and caricaturish. It doesn't help that she's been made up to resemble a 70's stereotype with a wig that belongs alongside Wahlberg's godawful hairpiece in All the Money in the World and shades that look like they belong in a Timbuk3 video.
Lior Ashkenazi shines as Prime Minister Rabin, who realistically wrestles with an appropriate strategical response, though Eddie Marsan is yet another case of gross miscasting as Shimon Peres, the Israeli defense minister, who endorses a "raid Entebbe" philosphy no matter the cost including human lives. Idi Amin, who actually WAS a living caricature, is played to full effect by Nonso Anozie.
7 Days in Entebbe is ultimately a very average film about a rather remarkable episode in history that has never really been brought to life in the way it fully deserves. This is the fourth adaptation of the story with nary a one actually possessing a sense of the awe-inspiring power of the story. Rodrigo Amarante's original score is almost subliminal in its presence, lowering the tone in a film that already underplays the dramatics in its story.
Destined to fade quickly from the U.S. box-office, 7 Days in Entebbe is held hostage by a story that never sparks to life and a cast that makes you long long for the good ole' days when Hollywood's biggest names would all get together and half-heartedly invest themselves in a disaster pic that knew it didn't particularly make sense but told its story anyway and managed to entertain. Unfortunately for all of us, this time there's no Israeli commandos to rescue us.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic