Hostage situations have to be some of the most frightening scenarios that people could ever find themselves in. There’s always the element of not knowing what’s going to happen, plus you’re life appears to always be on the line. Then you have nothing but time on your hands to think about everything in your past, present and future if you somehow make it out alive. I’m sure that’s what makes a story like the one we see in 7 Days in Entebbe enticing for filmmakers.
In the summer of 1976, the hijacking of an Air France jet traveling from Tel Aviv to Paris by two Palestinians and two left-wing German radicals puts hundreds of lives at stake. After some time, the terrorist group of four ends up in an abandoned terminal at Entebbe Airport in Uganda where they seek asylum and a chance to negotiate by using the passengers as bargaining chips to get what they want from the Israeli government.
As enticing as this true story may be, the problems seen here are clear. As it heads forward, 7 Days in Entebbe proves to stretch on longer than it should. When you take into account that it’s only about 1 hour and 47 minutes, that says a lot about what you’re being asked to watch. After an interesting opening, it struggles to move at a pace that most will approve of. When thinking about it, it’s easy to see why that is.
The obvious answer to what ales this film is reducing some of what is in the second act. After a quality opening act, there’s a letdown in a sense that creates the negative portions of the movie. If simply finding a way to shorten this a bit, you’re looking at a solid movie that might have told a captivating story. That’s partially because the third act fits quite well with the first act as they are both fairly engaging to watch.
While the complaints that I have take away from the overall quality of 7 Days in Entebbe, it doesn’t mean this doesn’t excel in a couple of other ways. Almost immediately, you’ll notice that it’s nice to look at since it is successful at being stylish visually. It also has some decent cinematography working in its favor.
What we have throughout this film is a story worth telling that could intrigue a great deal of people. For the people involved however, this sadly isn’t the movie to tell it. In reality, this would probably be hard for most filmmakers to make into something worthwhile. While the series of events were tense and heavy, there isn’t much outside of those to craft an engaging story around them.
Outside of the first and third act, this is basically about a group of people holding another group of people hostage. While that’s obviously an undesirable and frightening position to be in, there isn’t a bunch you can do with it unless you make large chunks of it up. Add to the fact that this is being made forty or so years after the actual events took place, and the task appears to be extremely daunting. That’s the main issue that this movie had to cope with even before production began.
It’s a difficult task that the people behind it had a hard time with. Movies on things like this would be better off in the form of a documentary. Make it about an hour-long, reenact some events and have interviews with people who know a fair amount about the events and/or were involved in some fashion. If you do this, what you’re watching is much faster, more compelling and intense. The problem would be that you potentially miss out on money.
Director: José Padilha
Film Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: March 16, 2018
Distributor: Focus Features
- Score - 4.5/104.5/10