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Movie review: Hijacking drama '7 Days in Entebbe' heavy on philosophy but light on tension
Rosamund Pike stars as Brigitte Kuhlman and Daniel Brhl stars as Wilfred Bose in 7 Days in Entebbe." - photo by Josh Terry
7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE 2 stars Rosamund Pike, Daniel Bruhl, Eddie Marsan, Ben Schnetzer, Nonso Anozie; PG-13 (violence, some thematic material, drug use, smoking and brief strong language); in general release

Jose Padilhas 7 Days in Entebbe feels like a mediation as much as a movie.

Padilhas film is inspired by the true story of the 1976 hijacking of Air France flight 139, when over 250 passengers were held hostage in a Ugandan airport for a week. There were a variety of nationalities on the plane, but the thrust of the action pits Palestinian terrorists against Israeli citizens in a protest of the Jewish state.

Aside from a handful of brief flashbacks, the story unfolds chronologically through the seven-day ordeal as the flight is first hijacked, then taken to the Entebbe International Airport in Uganda, where the terrorists hold the hostages in the terminal with the pensive cooperation of Idi Amin (Nonso Anozie)s Ugandan forces.

Rather than paint the narrative as an us vs. them or "good guys vs. bad guys" scenario, 7 Days skips through a number of different perspectives in an attempt to understand, if not quite rationalize, the crisis.

Rosamund Pike and Daniel Bruhl play Brigitte Kuhlmann and Wilfried Bose, a pair of leftist German revolutionaries who joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine because they support the Palestinian cause, but are forced to reconcile their commitment when confronted with the reality of terrorizing and potentially killing innocent civilians. Considerably less time is spent with the actual Palestinians involved with the hijacking, save for an impassioned exchange where one terrorist questions Boses connection to the cause.

Back in Israel, we see the perspective of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi), who wrestles with his countrys we dont negotiate with terrorists policy while playing a political dance with Defense Minister Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan), who is trying to put together a rescue mission.

The military perspective comes from an Israeli soldier (Ben Schnetzer) serving as part of The Unit, a special faction of the Israeli Army trained for such operations. His girlfriend Sarah (Zina Zinchenko) provides an interesting creative thread through a modern dance performance that punctuates different moments through the film.

The sum total is more interesting than entertaining, juxtaposing a lot of philosophy and political rhetoric against the terrified looks of the children whose lives are being threatened at the airport. Its also interesting to watch Kuhlmann and Bose wrestle with the reality that, three decades removed from the Holocaust, the world is watching German terrorists threatening the lives of Jewish civilians.

For all its intrigue, 7 Days story tends to drag, and even the mortal danger of the situation doesnt evoke as much tension as it should. The buildup to the films climactic resolution feels methodical where it should build momentum, and as a result, the payoff doesnt carry as much of an emotional catharsis.

The films opening titles acknowledge that some dialogue and scenes had to be invented to tell the story, and no doubt the various parties and those who support their causes will have pointed takes on 7 Days' interpretation of the event.

Padilha clearly wants 7 Days in Entebbe to encourage the peace process between Israel and Palestine, but in the effort to pursue noble ends, Padilha may have sacrificed what could have been a better movie.

7 Days in Entebbe is rated PG-13 for violence, some thematic material, drug use, smoking and brief strong language; running time: 106 minutes.
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