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7 Days in Entebbe – Movie Review

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7 Days in Entebbe – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

Hostage situations can be tense and unpredictable with multiple parties each trying to accomplish a different goal. That’s why they tend to lend themselves to movie plots and the specific event shown in 7 Days in Entebbe has previously reached the screen quite a few times. With Jose Padilha as a director, this could have been a return to form after his entrance into studio filmmaking with RoboCop. However, through some odd editing and storytelling decisions, this project doesn’t entirely click in the way intended. It’s a competently made film for the most part, but some ideas don’t entirely work in the final cut.

Despite some odd cuts early on, 7 Days in Entebbe seems like it might be a solid thriller when Daniel Bruhl and Rosamund Pike’s German revolutionaries take control of an Air France flight. Padilha and screenwriter Gregory Burke set the stage for a potentially tense situation as well as the personal philosophies of these activists in over their head. Bruhl manages to play somebody continually at odds with himself and his personal morals, thinking he’s above murder even as he keeps Israelis hostage for political purposes. Pike’s accent is a little wobbly, but we sense the growing tension between her and her partner as they spend more time in Entebbe. Pike does have one scene that is completely out of place and comes close to approaching unintentional chuckles.

Padilha does handle the uncertainty of the hostage and the fear many of them felt quite well. Some of the hostages do stand out with the minimal screen time they’re given. An Air France engineer, played by Denis Menochet, also makes an impression as he tries to understand and reason with Bruhl and tap into his conscience and the implications of what he’s doing. The scenes with the Israeli government provide some intrigue in how they are slow to respond to the crisis. Eddie Marsan gives an unusual performance as Minister of Defense and future Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, continually giving a sinister vibe through the entire film.

There are subplots that add up to little, most confusingly, an IDF soldier whose spouse is dancing in a play. The scenes of the dancers putting on a show suggest some sort of metaphor, but it’s not well integrated into the main plot. Sequences are played out of order for little reason, with oddly placed flashbacks to the Germans planning the hostage. It’s easy to figure out which scenes have been shortened or deleted altogether and that produces a strangely paced film. The climax, which should be the high point of 7 Days in Entebbe, makes one particularly baffling editing choice. Jose Padilha is clearly making a larger point and creating all sorts of connections, but the film is too jumbled to convey it properly.

7 Days in Entebbe definitely seems like a movie that fell short, because of ideas suggested during the editing phase. Admittedly, it’s tricky to create much excitement when most of the participants are stuck sitting around in a dull building. The storytelling devices merely lessen the impact of the story somewhat as Padilha attempts to show all of the different perspectives. Idi Amin is even thrown into the story, but serves minimal impact to the overall film. Sometimes, it takes making certain trims and edits to improve a film, even when the direction, screenplay and performances are more than serviceable.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison