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With: Daniel Brühl, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan, Lior Ashkenazi, Denis Menochet, Ben Schnetzer, Nonso Anozie
Written by: Gregory Burke
Directed by: José Padilha
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, some thematic material, drug use, smoking and brief strong language
Running Time: 106
Date: 03/16/2018

7 Days in Entebbe (2018)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hijack Flashback

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on real events, this dramatic thriller somehow lacks both drama and thrills; it concentrates on motivations rather than personalities and its focus on details seems more dutiful than interesting.

In 7 Days in Entebbe, it's 1976, and German activists Wilfried Böse (Daniel Brühl) and Brigitte Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike) decide they need to do something in the world, rather than just talking. So they join forces with Palestinian "freedom fighters" to hijack a plane traveling from Israel to Paris. They land the plane at Entebbe airport in Uganda, a country where Idi Amin (Nonso Anozie) rules and has agreed to help.

As time goes on, the hijackers begin to release some of the hostages, but it becomes clear to Wilfried that the Jewish passengers are not among them; they are being separated for some darker fate. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi) knows that Israel has a policy of not dealing with terrorists; he nonetheless agrees to negotiate. But at the same time, he approves a dangerous rescue plan. Will the hostages be rescued before it's too late?

Director Jose Padilha made both the harrowing documentary Bus 174 and the surprisingly solid, action-packed remake of Robocop, and his 7 Days in Entebbe weirdly falls directly in-between. It lacks any kind of documentary-like immediacy or urgency; it doesn't really get inside the story. And it does not come anywhere close to a thriller; its approach is instead dry and dull.

It's interesting to note how similar movies, like Argo, managed to take a true story and make a crackerjack entertainment from it, or like Zero Dark Thirty, where high-powered, behind-the-scenes meetings are made tense and riveting. This movie almost deliberately captures the boredom of this dire situation, rather than its tension.

Artistically, the movie attempts to draw parallels by intercutting a performance of the Batsheva Dance Company with the story, but even this feels forced. 7 Days in Entebbe is clearly intelligently written and competently directed, but as it goes on the effect is less emotional or thoughtful than it is distancing and clinical.

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