Coming out this week is Entebbe a based on true events film about the hijacking of an Air France plane in 1976 for the purpose of freeing 53 Palestinian and pro-Palestinian militants, 40 of whom were prisoners in Israel. The film stars Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike as two Germans who are a part of this hijacking and how it all unfolds over the course of a week.
Entebbe follows Brigitte Kuhlmann (Pike) and Wilfried Böse (Brühl) two German r”revolutionaries” who were founding members of the West German left-wing militant group Revolutionäre Zellen an urban guerrilla organisation. We learn through the course of the film that Wilfried and Brigitte hijack this plane for various reasons, some personal, others political, but the major reason is the freeing of the Palestinian prisoners of which they feel a kinship to.
Entebbe is a fascinating film in that the main premise of the story is done so amateurishly. Director José Padilha is quite heavy-handed in his dealing with the themes of the story. There is a symbolic dance routine that is utilised throughout the course of the film and the symbolism is incredibly on the nose especially when you have it in the film multiple times. If it had been used once it would have been all right but it is used as the opening shot of the film and at another far more impactful moment which sadly had been hampered by the previous scene.
There’s also the multiple subplots that the film tries to cram into the 109-minute long film. There’s the subplot involving the government of Israel and their attempts at figuring out what to do with the terrorists and hostages, the relationship between an Israeli dancer and her soldier boyfriend who is training for a possible raid on the terrorists. The biggest missed opportunity, in my opinion, is the perspective of the families of the hostages. We see barely anything from their point of view save for a few scant minutes of them storming the government building to protest what’s happening to their families in Entebbe.
Now the film is not all bad, Brühl and Pike are brilliant. They play two terrorists who see themselves as revolutionaries unfortunately the situation they’ve got themselves in is far more complex than they ever could have expected. Wilfried has this romanticised version of being a revolutionary is so when he is faced with the world seeing a German take several Jews hostage he understandably freaks out because he worries that all people will see is a Nazi. Brigitte, on the other hand, becomes far more detached from the situation leading to a complete emotional breakdown that Pike handles expertly. They really are the MVP’s of the whole film although in my opinion Eddie Marsan who plays Shimon Meres the interim Prime Minister at the time is another standout due to the quiet and sinister nature of his character. There’s also a lot of care put into the score which is suitably emotive while at times fairly intense as the film ramps up to its explosive climax. Couple that with some stylistically compelling cinematography and Entebbe has an absorbing aesthetic design.
In the end, Entebbe features two intriguing performances from its leads are sadly smothered by a lacklustre script and unimpressive direction.