7 Days In Entebbe movie cast: Daniel Bruhl, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan, Lior Ashkenazi, Nonso Anozie
7 Days In Entebbe movie director: Jose Padilha
7 Days In Entebbe movie rating: 3 stars
One of the most successful hostage rescue operations of all time, involving 102 Israelis saved from a plane hijacked and taken to Entebbe, Uganda, Operation Thunderbolt has been brought to screen several times. This one chooses to jettison the hostages altogether to focus on two rosy-eyed German revolutionaries and, more interestingly, some clear-eyed Israeli politicians, to render an efficient but largely emotionless drama.
In the middle, Padilha keeps cutting away to a dance drama being staged in Jerusalem by the girlfriend of one of the soldiers taking part in the rescue operation. However, but for right at the end of the film, when the dance provides a tempo and impetus to the soldiers going blazing in for the rescue, the whole exercise seems pointless and indulgent.
The conversation between the German revolutionaries, Brigitte Kuhlmann (Pike) and Wilfried Böse (Bruhl), who are the only non-Palestinians involved in the hijacking of the Air France plane, seems as indulgent. They are clearly playing out their romantic imagination of what a revolutionary must be — united with other such revolutionaries across the world in a common brotherhood, regardless of countries or causes. However, given how much of the film is devoted to Brigitte and Böse, it is a very shallow view. And when the curtain is lifted from their eyes, the film leaves them neither here nor there.
Brigitte is the more committed of the two, and it is left to Böse to deliver the most ironic line in the film. A flight engineer who has just fixed the toilets of the old airport terminal at Entebbe where the hostages have been kept, tells Böse how “One engineer is worth 50 revolutionaries (who have never held a job)”. Soon after, when Böse is asked why he is here by a Palestinian comrade, the publisher-turned-revolutionary from Frankfurt replies, in all seriousness, “To throw a bomb into the consciousness of masses.”
Meanwhile, the victims who are actually in the cross-hairs of some real bombs, guns, grenades, and even plain old physical violence, are ciphers to this story. The parents with two young children seem extraordinarily calm, the Jews staring at near-certain death reveal no jitters, and as the days wear on, as the heat in the unused terminal becomes oppressive, and as the toilets run dry, the desperation never seems at breaking point. There is only one scene of real tension in the film, and that is when a wall of the hall where the hostages are in is hammered to make a large hole, and the Israelis are told to walk through it.
The Palestinians get largely no face, and almost no dialogues. It’s Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who shines more, with Anozie stealing the show, in the few scenes he appears, as a man sold on his own myth.
The most satisfying scenes in the film involve Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin (Ashkenazi) and Defence Minister Shimon Peres (Marsan) discussing their options, driven largely by political one-upmanship. Rabin fears being pushed into a hardline position by Peres, left to take the fall should the operation fail. Peres, on the other hand, has everything to gain, and calls for Israel not giving up its position of never negotiating with terrorists. This is a powerplay that still seems familiar; it also leads Rabin to ask the one question that still needs to be asked: “Our enemies are our neighbours… If we never talk, how do we find peace?”