7 Days in Entebbe movie review: Jose Padilha's heist drama suffers from lack of depth, problematic execution

One would expect a top class thriller from Padilha given his knack for rendering action with a political underbelly. But 7 Days in Entebbe is a let down.

Mihir Fadnavis March 16, 2018 11:11:44 IST

2.5/5

7 Days in Entebbe is a rather huge missed opportunity, a colossal waste of talent and a giant disappointment for many reasons but the biggest of which is that is is directed by Jose Padilha, the acclaimed Brazilian filmmaker behind the Elite Squad movies and some episodes of Narcos. One would expect a top class thriller from Padilha given his knack for rendering action with a political underbelly. Unfortunately after Robocop, this is another belly flop from a filmmaker who is capable of much more.

7 Days in Entebbe movie review Jose Padilhas heist drama suffers from lack of depth problematic execution

A still from 7 Days in Entebbe. YouTube

The film chronicles the real life hostage crisis in 1976 when German (Rosamund Pike, Daniel Bruhl) and Palestinian terrorists took over and diverted a Paris bound plane to Uganda and demanded ransom. Oddly, the screenplay comes from Gregory Burke who earlier wrote the excellent military thriller ’71 but the narrative here feels rather second rate and insincere. There have been other film adaptations of this incident before and the CIA has released more information of the rescue op that was code-named Operation Thunder in the recent years but we never get into the details of this operation. What we see is a standard issue patriotic rescue drama with all the clichés of a hostage situation and familiar period aesthetics.

But it is not just the lack of depth in the script – it is also the execution that is problematic.  For one, there is the usual issue of foreign characters speaking in accented English which in 2018 is just impossible to take seriously. One wishes filmmakers trusted the audiences to read subtitles and watch a movie with authentic casting and dialogue that feels real. The drama in 7 Days in Entebbe is something akin to a high school play that often tends to seem like a self parody, particularly in the scenes where Pike’s high strung character is flipping out. Then there is the issue of creating contrived stories between hostage characters just so you feel sympathy for them being in danger. Needless to say, it does not work on any level and the subplot between a dancer and her boyfriend becomes the albatross around the narrative’s neck.

The worst offender is the lack of clarity on the political strands in the film – Padilha and his writer do not seem sure about what stand to take and what point, so many moments that should have been hard hitting are played out safe, and the non issues are over dramatized to shrill levels. There is a certain deceitfulness about trying to tell a political story and not having the backbone to deliver what you promise, but it is much worse to not offer any closure to the audiences or at the very least render them some message by the time the film ends.

You are neither entertained by the action nor enlightened about the problem in the Middle East – you are merely put through a series of mediocre set pieces that seem to have been written without the effort made to research key elements about a major Earth shattering geopolitical incident. One can only hope that Padilha returns to Brazil and quickly gets back in form.

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