Stars: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl, Eddie Marsan, Denis Ménochet
There have already been a number of cinematic and TV depictions of the 1976 Entebbe raid, in which, after an Air France flight bound for Israel was hijacked by pro-Palestinian terrorists, Israeli defence forces staged a daring rescue operation at the titular Ugandan airport where the plane was grounded. Brazilian director Padilha aims for a less gung-ho approach with problematic results. Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike are Wilfried Bosie and Brigitte Kuhlman, members of the German left wing Revolutionary Cells who carry out the hijack along with some native Palestinians. Brigitte is a pill-popping fanatic in vengeful mood after the recent loss of a comrade in arms who died in prison; Wilfried is an idealist on a collision course with reality. The drama occasionally cuts to Israel where the then defence secretary Shimon Peres (played with a wily grin by Marsan) is urging a swift and decisive military response. Flashbacks show the hijack being planned. The picture looks good, particularly in its depiction of the sweaty claustrophobic Entebbe airport environs, and Brühl does his best as a committed but callow young man, struggling to square his professed idealism with the bitter irony of being a German holding Jewish prisoners at gun point (‘I’m not a Nazi’ he repeatedly insists). But the dialogue is either stagey and artificial, or clumsily on-the-nose, and most of the lines are delivered in accented English, which feels dated and naff. The effort to be even-handed, while admirable, imbues the picture with a neutered and dull quality. Most damningly Padilha juxtaposes events of the climactic raid with scenes of – wait for it – interpretive dance. It’s a baffling and woefully ill-conceived move that not only drains the climax of any sense of drama but renders it laughable.