DVD Review – ‘Entebbe’ is important politically, but drab as a movie

Luke Stevenson is one of the hosts of The Popcorn Muncher Podcast. He is only serious about Bee Movie.

Cover art for the 2018 DVD release of hostage thriller Entebbe

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 10th September 2018
Runtime: 107 minutes
Director: José Padilha
Writer: Gregory Burke
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan, Lior Ashkenazi, Nonso Anozie, Ben Schnetzer
Synopsis: Pro-Palestinian activists take a plane full of Israelis hostage in an attempt to blackmail their government into releasing imprisoned colleagues, triggering an intense political crisis.

 

 

Dramatic movies about a particular event in history have a fine line to walk. They need to succeed in telling a story you know in an effective way, shedding new light on something you didn’t know in a way that’s unique enough for you to take notice, or use their history to critique, comment or warn audiences about how this relates to an existing context. It’s this fine line that is quite sadly missed by Entebbe, not for lack of trying. Unfortunately, one stylish sequence in a film approaching two hours is not enough to give this story of how a group of pro-Palestinian terrorists/freedom fighters (the two interpretations introduced at the movie’s opening) hijacked a plane with more than 100 Israeli civilians on board and tried to use it to hold the Israeli government to ransom.

It may have been a bit much to ask the producers of this film to consider the commentary they were making, given how relevant it now feels. This movie is released on DVD in the midst of an unprecedented antisemitism crisis gripping one of the UK’s major political parties, with the conflict this movie is based on positioned as being at its centre. There’s no way the filmmakers could have known that this would happen. However, the crux of the Israel/Palestine conflict and debate is that it is one that has run for almost 70 years with no clear solution in sight. With that history, and staring down the uncertain future, it should have been incumbent upon Entebbe to do more with its political conflict than use it as set dressing for what becomes a rather run of the mill and dull hostage feature.

It’s left to the characters and storytelling to do the job the script misses, but that is also lacking. It’s hard to think of a hostage movie more devoid of tension until the last 20 minutes, despite the fact director José Padilha seems to think he is directing Zero Dark Thirty.

Despite the film’s lack of desire or ability to take on the wider issues at play, it does throw its net wide in search of impact. A sprawling group of characters are put at this movie’s core, but so large is the group and so different their positions – it runs from the hijackers, to an Israeli special unit grunt right through to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister – that it’s difficult to find a focal point.

The nominal leads are Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike, playing two German hijackers, but they are left with little to do. Both seem to go through different levels of struggle with the choices they’ve made, but this is rarely interrogated in any meaningful way, with the movie often relying on cliched scenes and dialogue so unbelievable (“I want to throw bombs into the consciousness of the masses”) that it reminds you this is most likely someone with little knowledge of self-proclaimed revolutionaries, scripting how they think they act.

All in all, Entebbe is a missed opportunity. The film presents a chance to shine a spotlight on the world’s longest ongoing conflict in an era when it has become central to Western political discourse. However, this is rather passed up in exchange for a lacklustre hostage feature which, while possessing some flashes of style, is devoid of tension.

 

Special Features

There’s a featurette, but not much else unfortunately.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

The Israel/Palestine conflict and its political surroundings are a huge part of British politics today, but Entebbe is a movie that chooses to ignore the resonance of its issues in order to focus on the hostage story at its heart. That would be fine, but the film lacks any sense of tension or excitement. It fails politically, and it fails as a thriller tale as well.

 

Entebbe is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now, courtesy of eOne.

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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