The Red Sea Diving Resort movie cast: Chris Evans, Michael K. Williams, Ben Kingsley, Haley Bennett, Michiel Huisman, Alessandro Nivola
The Red Sea Diving Resort movie director: Gideon Raff
The Red Sea Diving Resort movie rating: Two stars
After watching Chris Evans play the saviour in numerous Marvel movies, we have come to believe that Evans can save the day, any day but somehow, even he isn’t powerful enough to save Netflix’s The Red Sea Diving Resort. The film is a spy thriller set in the early 1980s war-torn Sudan where an abandoned resort by the port of Sudan was used as a cover to transport thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Jerusalem.
The film opens with the heroics of Ari Levinson (Evans) who is reckless but somehow things always end up working in his favour. Levinson and Kebede (Michael K. Williams) have pledged their lives to extract Ethiopian Jews and transport them to Jerusalem via Sudan. With international relations at their messiest, Levinson devises a plan to save the Jews via sea by using an abandoned resort. He forms a team by selecting agents for the mission but apart from Sammy (Alessandro Nivola), the field doctor, no one actually gets enough screen time for us to know them better.
The plan is simple to explain but challenging to execute. The team has to make countless trips to extract thousands of refugees and this is where the film starts to lose its grip just a little. There is no end in sight and each trip they make is just as dangerous. So where is the film heading towards?
There is no way that all the refugees will be transported in this 2-hour film. So, how does this journey end?
During their first trip, Ari Levinson’s recklessness is at the forefront and in the name of daredevilry, he might have jeopardised the entire mission. When another character points it out, you believe it to be of some significance but countless trips later, we never hear of it again until another problem crops up. Levinson’s team is managing all of this while also handling the resort. What started as a cover has now actually turned into a hotel where real guests turn up to enjoy diving so we also have montages where our team of saviours lays by the beach, enjoys the sun and sea and eats local lobsters. While the area is dangerous because of the local tribes and military invasion, the hotel guests never seem to be in any real danger, which feels quite absurd.
During one of their trips, Levinson and team are almost caught but still manage to send away the refugees safely which makes you believe that if the Sudanese military is that stupid, there was probably no need for a cover resort.
As we head towards the climax, the film tries to build up a nail-biting chase but the effect never gets translated on screen. The villain here is Col Abdel Ahmed (Chris Chalk) who suspects that the white people are indulging in some illegal activity. He is a part of the Sudanese military and all you are told about him is that he is evil. In the case of Levinson’s boss played by Ben Kingsley, the character sketching is just as poor. He plays the supportive-but-unsupportive boss who urges Levinson to be careful.
The Red Sea Diving Resort is reminiscent of Argo but the tension that held together the Ben Affleck film is missing here.
The Red Sea Diving Resort is written and directed by Gideon Raff (of Prisoners of War and Homeland fame). Raff’s emotional investment in the story forces you to empathise with the refugees who are struggling to find a place they can call home but throwing Chris Evans in the mix seems like an afterthought. His presence here makes the film a vehicle for the white saviour. The makers must have anticipated that and therefore gave him a backstory that had to be narrated in expositional dialogue.
Heroes earn their title because they save the day at its bleakest but when you realise that he is saving the day because he already knows that he is the hero, the anticipation and thrill just vanishes. Evans is that kind of hero in The Red Sea Diving Resort. The film is based on a true story and as the end credits roll, you see actual footage from the 1980s. The real-life story is quite inspiring but the film dilutes its impact.