Starring: Daniel Brühl, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan
Director: José Padilha
Running Time: 106 mins
Entebbe is an American film about the true story of a hijacking of a passenger plane travelling from Israel to France by a team of German and Palestinian terrorists, and the attempts of the Israeli government to bring home the hostages on board in safety.
Detailing the events of a major terrorist incident with enormous and complex ramifications in international politics that remain to this day, you’d expect Entebbe to have all the ingredients of a thrilling, intriguing and even thought-provoking film.
Sadly, it turns out to be the exact opposite, failing to provide any real tension, complex or stimulating political intrigue, or even emotional drama, and despite the work of some spirited performances and an in-depth screenplay, the film really struggles to keep you captivated throughout.
The hijacking of Air France Flight 139 was no normal terrorist incident, but a flashpoint inextricably linked to a number of contemporary and historical political conflicts. A crisis in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, a key moment in the modern history of Uganda, and a part of the devastating legacy of the Holocaust, there is so much to unpack about the event.
However, Entebbe really struggles to make that work, faltering on almost all counts as it attempts to wrestle all of its core historical and political themes together. Its presentation of the conflict between Palestine and Israel is lukewarm, the role of Uganda and its dictator Idi Amin is underwhelming, and its attempts at thought-provoking drama considering the legacy of Nazism and Germany’s treatment of Jews is poorly developed.
There’s no denying that the film is taking on a lot of complex matters, and conquering all of them would be no mean feat, but it feels as if Entebbe is just biting off more than it can chew when it comes to historical drama. And what’s even worse is that the film knows it.
Recognising the impossibility of bringing together so much historical depth into one theatrical film, the movie attempts to change tack, lending its core dramatic focus to the people involved in the incident, both on the side of the hijackers and forces trying to rescue the hostages.
It’s a valiant effort that makes sense from the start, but in tandem with that frustratingly poor historical depth, the film never manages to foster any potent or real emotional drama, with each of its characters mere shells in comparison to the emotionally complex real figures.
Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl give charismatic performances, and lend some strong humanity to the side of the hijackers, even if they never quite open up their character’s inner emotional turmoil to a great extent. On the other side, there are a number of rather dull performances portraying Israeli officials attempting to defuse the situation, never really grasping the intensity and significance of the events unfolding before them.
And all of that is forgetting the fact that this film is most fundamentally meant to be a fast-paced, breathless thriller. Politics, history and emotion aside, Entebbe unfolds with meandering drama and inconsistent pacing throughout. It never captures even a moment of real tension, as we see the hijackers encroached on all sides by rescue forces, and in that there’s very little to get excited about at any point.
Overall, I was really disappointed by Entebbe. A staggeringly underwhelming watch that fails to provide tension, emotional depth and historical intrigue, it’s a dull and forgettable watch, and far from the intense and politically charged thriller that it absolutely should have been. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.2.