Blu-Ray Review – Entebbe

Entebbe is the newest film by the very good Brazilian director Jose Padilla, but unfortunately it’s an incredibly pedestrian film. It’s a fictionalised drama of the infamous hijacking of Air France Flight 139 en route from Tel Aviv to Paris. The hijacking was perpetrated by Revolutionary Cells, who were a German urban guerrilla group that claimed to be less elitist than the more widely known Baader Meinhof Gang. Their big objective was to overthrow the Israeli government and liberate the Palestinian people.

The film is probably most successful at depicting just how ludicrous the hijackers were, because they were these very bourgeois “revolutionaries” who were deeply authoritarian in their own way, even while calling everybody from the West German government to the entire state of Israel “fascists.” Never mind the fact that they decided to land the plane and seek help from the monster that was Idi Amin… The Revolutionary Cells took to heart a very simplistic view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is very common for middle-class people who are trying to show how “radical” or “progressive” they are—when in reality, the issues are more complex than the way some Western activists present them.

The story has been told many times on film before. There were three dramatisations of the events made immediately in the wake of the events, and they mostly told the story through the Israeli military view. Padilla chooses wisely to give more of a face to the Revolutionary Cells, so he attempts to provide a well-rounded version of the events. The Israeli government doesn’t come off particularly well either. The event itself is dramatic, with this insane hijacking, then flying into Uganda, and then a big assault by Israeli commandos. However, both sides are despicable, and that makes it hard for the viewer to remain engaged.

The most baffling element to the film is these modern dance sequences that bookend the film, and which are intercut during the slow-mo shootout. In addition, the gun battle is incredibly anti-climactic, although any normal film would make sure it was the climax of the story—it’s so misjudged. The performances from Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl are both fine. They are very good actors, but seem like they wish they were in a better film. Brühl has played far more interesting political activists on screen as well. He is also pretty much the only German actor it seems Hollywood casting directors are aware of.

The disc only includes a featurette.

★★

Ian Schultz

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