7 Days in Entebbe Review
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In 1976, a team of Israeli commandos was sent thousands of miles into Africa on a covert rescue mission known as Operation Thunderbolt—an operation that had to be planned in just a few days. And the story behind the mission is told in director José Padilha’s 7 Days in Entebbe.

7 Days in Entebbe tells the story of an Air France flight out of Tel Aviv that was hijacked shortly after making a stop in Athens. The hijackers, led by a pair of German revolutionaries, aimed to take a stand for Palestinian “Freedom Fighters” by taking Israeli hostages. After landing in Entebbe, Uganda, they split up the hostages and demanded the release of a number of terrorists from Israeli prisons in exchange for the hostages’ safe return. And as the days passed, the Israeli military raced to plan a risky rescue mission.

Operation Thunderbolt has been called one of the most daring rescue missions in history. And, somewhere in here, there’s a fascinating and complex story with gripping suspense—but this isn’t that story.

Though the military operation, from its planning to its execution, makes up a part of the film, the focus seems to be more on the people—on the German revolutionaries, played by Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl, who quickly find themselves losing control of the operation once they land in Entebbe. As the others begin to resort to violence, threatening to kill hostages, they realize that they might not have fully thought through all of the details. On one hand, the film seems to be trying to humanize the terrorists—yet, at the same time, it explores very little of their story, allowing viewers to know very little about their background or their motivation.

Really, none of the aspects of the story are fully developed—from the hijacking to the characters to the rescue mission. And, added to the mix, there’s a storyline featuring an Israeli soldier and his dancer girlfriend, whose dance numbers are woven into the film. While the numbers are impressive—and the music is haunting—it generally feels random and distracting, further weakening the film’s impact.

The story behind Operation Thunderbolt is definitely a fascinating one—a story filled with action and suspense and conflicting viewpoints. It’s a story with plenty of potential. Unfortunately, very little of it comes through in 7 Days in Entebbe. And what’s left is an intriguing but forgettable film about a significant historical event.

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