'7 Days In Entebbe' Dulls Down Its Daring True Story

By James Jay Edwards
Released: March 16, 2018
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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.

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Film Review
The first thing people think of when the subject of airplane hijackings is brought up is usually not modern dance, but that's just what opens and closes the docudrama 7 Days in Entebbe.

7 Days in Entebbe is about the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jet that was bound for Paris from Athens, Greece. Two Palestinians and two Germans take the plane and reroute it to Benghazi, Libya, with 250 passengers aboard. Once in Libya, the hijackers demands are heard; they want 53 Palestinian prisoners to be released within two days, or they will start killing hostages. The Israeli government buys time by negotiating while they plan a daring rescue mission, one that they nickname "Operation Thunderbolt."

7 Days in Entebbe, photo courtesy Focus Features, All Rights Reserved.

Based on the true story of one of the gutsiest military operations of its time, 7 Days in Entebbe was written by Gregory Burke ('71) and directed by José Padilha (RoboCop). It's a rather loose retelling of the story, because the actual event was an impressive feat of stealth and courage, while the movie is a confusing slog. Well, the middle of the movie is a confusing slog. It hits the ground running (after the modern dance bit) with the hijacking, and predictably closes with the exciting rescue (before another modern dance bit), but the second act, the negotiations and planning stages, are tedious.

What 7 Days in Entebbe tries to be is a character study. There's internal struggle throughout, within both the Israeli government and the core of the hijackers, which attempts to inject a bit of humanity into the story. However, the hostages, the real human interest aspect of the story, are practically ignored. The two German hijackers, played by Daniel Brühl (A Most Wanted Man) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), are treated as the most sympathetic characters in the movie, seeming to be conflicted about what they are doing from the onset. And, when your hijacking movie tries to get its audience to empathize with the hijackers, you know you're doing something wrong.

7 Days in Entebbe, photo courtesy Focus Features, All Rights Reserved.

Before seeing 7 Days in Entebbe, one should google the real story behind Operation Thunderbolt. Because it is a fascinating story. But, as was the case with this year's other hijacking movie, The 15:17 to Paris, it deserves a much better movie than 7 Days in Entebbe. As for the modern dance segments, well, they're a head scratcher. They sort of illustrate an exchange between one of the Israeli soldiers and his dancer girlfriend - "I fight so you can dance." "What if I stopped dancing?" The dance scenes drive this point home, but it's a point that didn't need to be driven. The characters themselves said it better.
The musical score for 7 Days in Entebbe does something really interesting. It almost feels as if composer Rodrigo Amarante ("Narcos") knew that the movie was being overly artistic and melodramatic, so he tossed in an overly artistic and melodramatic score to match. So, while the Israeli prime minister is arguing with his secretary of defense, there's a tense, almost B-movie vamp simmering underneath. When the hijackers are filtering the Israeli passengers from the other nationalities, there's a swelling orchestral crescendo. It almost saves the movie. Almost, because it seems as if Amarante didn't quite commit to taking it the entire way, maybe not getting as campy as he would have liked. But his score sets the mood for the kind of movie that 7 Days in Entebbe is, not the kind of movie that its filmmakers wanted it to be. It's a bit at odds at times, but it does improve the picture.

Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date
March 16, 2018
MPAA Rating
Production Designer
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Music Score