Film Review: 7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE (UK/USA 2017)

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7 Days in Entebbe Poster

Inspired by the true events of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight en route from Tel Aviv to Paris, and the most daring rescue mission ever attempted.


José Padilha


Gregory Burke (screenplay by)


There has already been 2 television movies (released theatrically outside the U.S.) on the 1976 rescue/hijack event, VICTORY IN ENTEBBE and RAID ON ENTEBBE  including the  documentary OPERATION THUNDERBOLT.  I have not seen the doc but the two made for television movies were quite bad.  So, is this new 2017 version the definitive Entebbe film?  (Note that the closing credits list the film as a 2017 production though there is a statement on screen stating that there is presently no peace alliance between Israel and Palestine with the date, March 2018 flashed on the screen.  The only explanation is that the statement was put into the film in 2017 and not in March of 2018.)

Who else then to direct the Entebbe raid true story than Brazilian director, José Padilha who helmed the excellent documentary BUS 174 way back about the hijacked bus in Rio de Janeiro?  But despite the impressive cast and crew, 7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE that unfolds from Day 1 (June 25th,1976) to Day 7 is incredibly boring.

The film is based on the real life rescue of the hijacked Air France passengers in Uganda by Israeli forces.  The plane was hijacked from its Athens, Greece departure by a group of 4, 2 Germans, Brigitee Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike) and Wilfred Bose (Daniel Bruhl) and 2 Palestinians.  Instead of centring on the actual raid and heroics, the script by Gregory Burke focuses on the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  The film itself begins with a reminder of the fact that an Israeli state was formed in 1947 and fighting between Palestine and Israel has been going on ever since – the fighters for liberating the land back to Palestine known to the Palestinians as Freedom Fighters but as terrorists to the Israelis.  The film contains a lot of talk behind the scenes of the planning, between Minister of Defence, Shimon Peres (the always excellent Eddie Marsan in extreme makeup) and Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi).  There is also a debate on the insufficient funds in the defence budget.  One of the soldiers has a girlfriend in dance.  He is advised by a fellow soldier to have her join the army or be forever apart.  This explains the dance scenes in the film.

The dance sequences appear at length not only at the start and end of the film, but interspersed at other points during the film.  Besides the soldier’s girlfriend being in dance, what are the dance sequences really doing in a supposedly action film?  The dance metaphor, if there is one, surely escapes me.  Anyway, too much time is wasted watching the dancers in tights prancing around on stage.  The dance sequences go right into the closing credits.

Acting is surprisingly good with a jolt of hilarity provided by Nonso Anozie in the role of Dictator Idi Amin.  Bruhl and Marsan also stand out.

The individual film scenes are well directed by Padilha.  But the problem is that they all do not come together as a whole or for the right purpose.  A film that stresses the needed peace agreement between Israel and Palestine should not be one that centres on heroic Israeli forces rescuing a hijacked plane.


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Happy Birthday: Daniel Brühl

danielbruhlHappy Birthday actor Daniel Brühl

Born: June 16, 1978 in Barcelona, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

dir. Ron Howard
Daniel Bruhl
Chris Hemsworth

2012 Movie PosterInglourious Basterds
dir. Tarantino
Brad Pitt
Mike Myers

dir. Julie Delpy
Julie Delpy
Chris Rock

dir. Paul Greengrass
Julia Stiles

dir. Anton Corbijn

Rachel McAdams
Robin Wright

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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captain_america_civil_warCAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Bruhl, Frank Grillo

Reveiw by Gilbert Seah

Judging from the box-office successful but critically panned BATMAN V. SUPERMAN, audiences love to see their super heroes battle one another – never mind the reason, never mind who wins, and never mind anything else. In this latest Marvel superhero movie, there are lots more of the same. It is a dream come true for current action fans as there is a full 15 minute action fight scene during which two factions of super heroes battle it out with each other.

The film begins with establishing the reason for the formation of the two factions. It is a world disaster in which innocent people are killed in Nigeria following a criminal being pursued by the Avengers. As a result of the collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps, one led by Steve Rogers aka Captain America (the handsome hunk Luke Evans) and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s Ironman (played by Robert Downey Jr.) surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

This is an AVENGERS film despite the Captain America title. Other Marvel heroes on display here include Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Winter Soldier of the film title (Sebastian Stan), Falcon from the IRONMAN films (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye with his arrows (Jeremy Renner), Vision (Paul Bettany), Spider-man (Tom Holland) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) the latter two providing most of the humour in the film. But the script by a multiple of writers includes many one-liners that only Marvel fans will find funny, or whoever is in the mood. But the one-liners are quite mediocre and no match compared to those found in other action films like the DIE HARD or TERMINATOR films.

So there is one faction led by Ironman with Spidey, Faclon and Spider and the other by Captain America, Winter soldier and Hawkeye. There is an extended fight scene between the two leaders as well but no one really comes out the outright victor. The heroes use their powers like Spidey his web, America his shield and Hawkeye his arrows.

The film running at almost two and a half hours is surprisingly short on both story and character development. The script contains lots of repetitions on the need to control the Avengers i.e. to substantiate the rivalry between the two groups. All this tends to be a tad boring after a while, not to mention that the matter is never resolved at the end and the film set up for a sequel.

Not much is demanded in the acting department for an action film of this nature except for the actors to look good. And they all look very bulked up or pretty as the case may be. This reviewer never liked Robert Downey Jr. as an actor (in Sherlock Holmes, IRONMAN and other films) or in person for his wise-cracking smart-ass attitude. So, the best line in the film delivered by Black Widow to him: “Are you incapable of letting go of your ego for one Goddamned second?” gave me a big smile.

CAPTAIN AMERICA is a film that would delight action Marvel fans, but those serious in their taste of cinema – might want to take all this with a pinch (or rather, heap) of salt.

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