‘7 Days In Entebbe’ Sheds Little Light On A Famous Rescue

Editorial Director, Film And Television


7 Days in Entebbe begins with a hijacking and ends with a raid but in every possible sense seems confused as to what to place in the middle of those two events. It presents itself as a docudrama — screaming title cards announcing locations, handheld cameras for the you-are-there effect — but takes odd diversions from that style as if unsure about committing to it. And, in retelling a story whose political implications could still start a screaming match decades later, it takes a mushy approach seemingly determined to offend no one, or at least offend no one all that much or for very long.

The film revisits a 1976 incident in which four terrorists — two from Palestine and two from Germany — hijacked an Air France flight en route from Tel Aviv to Paris following a stop in Athens, with the ultimate goal of earning the release of 53 prisoners. To this end, they forced the crew to fly first to Libya then to Uganda, landing at the Entebbe airport where they were greeted by Idi Amin, who gave the terrorists shelter until a raid by Israeli commandos ended the stand-off, killing the hijackers, rescuing most of the hostages, and losing only one soldier in the process — the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, now currently serving as Israel’s Prime Minister.

Working from a script by Gregory Burke (’71), director José Padilha, attempts to take the long view of the incident without sacrificing a sense of immediacy. But the 7 Days doesn’t really achieve either. Padilha — who made his name in Brazil with the Elite Squad films before coming to Hollywood for a little-loved remake of RoboCop — attempts to cover every possible angle, switching between the stories of the two German hijackers, Brigitte Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike) and Wilifried Böse (Daniel Brühl); Zeev Hirsch (Ben Schnetzer), an Israeli soldier involved in the raid played by; and the political debate leading up to the operation as headed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi) and future Prime Minister Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan). But after a well-staged hijacking sequence opens the film, none of the stories work. And, in spite of the piles of exposition Burke’s script gives to the characters, the film most likely won’t leave many viewers feeling like they know much more than the raw facts of the incident.

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