In 1976 Israel pulled off a high stake raid at the Entebbe air port in Uganda freeing more than one hundred hostages taken from an Air France flight 139 from Tel Aviv to Paris and held as hostages. The extraction of the hostages was planed to take one hour, it took exactly 58 minutes.
That creative and courageous action by the Israel government has been on the screen in the past, each production is different the others. In 1976 ABC TV aired a film called Victory at Entebbe which stared: Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Helen Hayes, Anthony Hopkins and Elizabeth Taylor. With that very strong cast the raid was portrayed in an exciting and effective manner. Also in 1976 a film called Raid on Entebbe, staring Charles Bronson, Peter Finch and Yaphet Kotto hit the screen.
This version spends more time on the politics in the Israel government and handles the battles, and questions the difficult decision making process in the cabinet. Eddie Marsan plays Shimon Peres the defense cabinet member who promotes the rescue operation. Lior Ashkenazi is Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who initially has hesitations because of the danger of loosing the lives of the captives. Once the decision is made and the operation is successful they are all praised for the action.
Rosamund Pike and Daniel Bruhl are two of the terrorists who from time to time have doubts about their mission. The purpose is to force Israel into freeing terrorists who are held captive in Israel. Director Jose Padilha (2014s Robocop) brings the tension in the cabinet and throughout the capture of the flight into the ancient unused air port in Entebbe, but the wavering of some of the hostage takers weakens the sense of danger to the captives even when the Jews are separated from the other hostages. The actual attack is a very short part of the film and that is disappointing. Director Padilha spends a great deal of time flashing back to the Batsheva Dance Company which has the girl friend of Yonatan Netanyahu (Angel Bonanni) one of the commandos on the stage.
While Yonatan Netanyahu is battling to free the hostages with the other members of the 200 member military force, we see more of the Dance Company than the action, which should be the core and target of the entire film. That is disappointing. Even as we see the attackers dressed as Ugandan Soldiers riding in a Mercedes just like Idi Amin’s, Dictator of Uganda sneaking up on the unsuspecting terrorists and the hostages. It would also have been more interesting to see the charting of the attack in more detail like what the command post on the Boeing 707 forward command post which was in Nairobi, Kenya was doing.
Solid performances are dulled by the constant flashing back to the dance company when we want to see each step taken as the brave commandos take the air port and save more than one hundred hostages from probable death.