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7 Days in Entebbe is a decent procedural without much to say about the events it depicts

By Leigh Monson 
 
   What is the purpose of a film? Well, the obvious answer is to entertain, but there's often a deeper, underlying purpose to a film in that entertainment. Is the goal to showcase some sort of action spectacle? Are we meant to delve deep into an actor's nuance-rich performance? Are we meant to pull some sort of allegorical notion or direct lesson from the proceedings we observe?
  At the very least, most good films are united by coherent themes and give the audience something to think about as the credits roll. 7 Days in Entebbe, though, doesn't quite come together as a cohesive whole in that sense, so while the film is well-performed with well-written dialogue and above-average direction, there just isn't a whole lot here to make the experience memorable.
  The film dramatizes the 1976 hijacking of Air France Flight 139 by Palestinian and German terrorists who ransomed the Israeli nationals on board in exchange for the release of various Palestinian freedom fighters from Israeli prisons. During these seven days, we follow three groups' stories. The first is the German terrorists (Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl), who come to question their dedication to their cause once they realize that they may need to use actual violence to back up their convictions. The second is the response by the Israeli government, who grapple with the need to rescue the hostages while recognizing that violent retaliation risks perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The third story focuses on a soldier who eventually participates in the rescue operation, spotlighting his girlfriend who performs as a dancer while he fights for Israel.
  The themes of these disparate narratives vary in prominence from scene to scene, so while individually they each serve to paint a broad picture of that week's events, together they don't really have much to say about the cultural or political significance of the event. Pike and Brühl give very good performances as idealists caught over their heads in a conflict that was never theirs to begin with, but the film doesn't find much to say about the role violence must necessarily play for those who are personally invested.
  The government side of things focuses on the dividing line between saving lives immediately and saving a country through peaceful negotiations, but for as much as that idea is bandied about it doesn't really come to a satisfying conclusion. As for the solider storyline, it seems only to exist so that we can get an admittedly cool juxtaposition between the rescue operation and his girlfriend's dance performance, and a surprise reveal of that soldier's identity at the end of the film falls pretty flat for how hollowly he's portrayed.
  7 Days in Entebbe is a breezy, nominally entertaining bit of historical theater, but other than seeing an admittedly embellished portrayal of a tense moment in Israeli history there isn't much point to seeing it play out. It's an unfocused telling that lacks a central thesis to tie its disparate threads together, so while individual elements work quite well they are underserved by a film constructed without clear purpose. This probably doesn't need a theatrical viewing, but if you find yourself browsing rentals and have an interest in the event, you could do worse.

3/5 stars
Leigh Monson is technically a licensed attorney but somehow thinks being a film critic is a lot more fun. Leigh loves both award darlings and hilariously bad films, does not believe in superhero movie fatigue, and calls it like he sees it.