Until yesterday, I had no idea this movie was even coming out. I happened to walk by a poster overseas and stop in my tracks; not because the poster is catchy or anything, but because I’ve read more than one account of the historical events and was curious as hell to see how they would do it. I’m usually a little skeptical when it comes to more modern events being translated to the big screen, but there was enough coverage of the hijacking back then and quite a few important figures involved that I figured they couldn’t get too crazy. I’m glad I sat down for this one.
If you are unfamiliar with the general history, it starts with the hijacking of an Air France flight in 1976 on its way to Tel Aviv. An alliance of revolutionary factions take over the plane and force it to Entebbe, Uganda where the psychopathic dictator Idi Amin welcomes them and allows access to an old airport terminal. Most of the events portrayed in the movie focus less on world perspective and more on interaction between main players. You still get the political and cultural significance, but it’s wrapped in a cocoon of good performances by characters who know exactly who they are portraying.
Of course, right off the bat the film tells you it did away with some of the facts in favor of dramatic storytelling. I was a little disappointed, but its still a good film. I had a few complaints as far as historical accuracy but it wasn’t enough to make me dislike it. I can’t really complain about directors spicing things up. There’s many places you can go to find the full story, and as long as the big events are kept true, I’m okay with a few delineations. Just don’t fuck with names or places.
A lot of the perspective comes from the German terrorists played by Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl. If you have a problem with that perspective, I don’t know what to tell you. They do a phenomenal job regardless of your opinion on actual people or events, and it is nice to see such compelling characters no matter which side they’re on. Most of the rest of the movie is the internal Israeli struggle between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi) and Defense Minister Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan). Marsan’s performance of Peres might be my favorite, but I honestly can’t choose between him and Denis Ménochet who plays Flight Engineer Jacques Le Moine. But every character is done well.
For those that haven’t read or heard the story before, I’ll hold off on any further spoilers. I will say, however, that José Padilha is pretty god damn good at making tense movies with compelling characters. I really hope he does more historical events in the future, but he’s also busy producing and writing so who knows.
If there is something that might turn some folks off with this movie, it would be the mash up of interpretive dance that gets squeezed in. It makes sense in the movie because the main dancer is a character’s girlfriend, but some people don’t like “artsy” stuff in their movies. I mean, fuck those people, but still. And if you’re expecting huge action sequences, this isn’t really the place. Even the ending gets a little glossed over in favor of the human element, but I’m perfectly okay with it.
In the end, this may be a movie to sit down and enjoy on the couch, but only because there’s no crazy special effects or set pieces and movie tickets these days are ridiculous. Maybe even read a book about it either before or after watching it to see a different side of the story. Me? I love this kind of stuff and gobble it up like a hungry alligator. It was a nice way to kill some time while I wait for Pacific Rim: Uprising, which better be the shit OR ELSE.