- James Mottram
- 7 May 2018
Terrific performances form the backbone of José Padilha's hijacking thriller, based on real events
The infamous 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight, on the way from Tel Aviv to Paris, was one of the most sensational news stories of the decade. Although a flurry of film versions appeared in the aftermath – including Victory at Entebbe, a made-for-television drama starring Burt Lancaster and Anthony Hopkins – Brazilian director José Padilha's Entebbe is the first film in 40 years to re-examine events.
Padilha would seem the ideal choice to direct; he first came to attention with Bus 174, a documentary about the real-life hijacking of a Rio bus. He also made the Berlinale-winning Elite Squad, a semi-fictional tale set amid his country's military police. Here, he brings his visceral filmmaking to a terrifying incident, which saw four pro-Palestinian terrorists take control of the plane and force it to land in Entebbe, Uganda.
Of the quartet of hijackers, who are demanding the release of 50 imprisoned Palestinian militants, the two German revolutionaries, Brigitte Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike) and Wilfried Böse (Daniel Brühl), are given the lion's share of the screen-time. Wired on amphetamines, Pike's Kuhlmann is the most distinct, and her gradual unravelling over this seven-day ordeal is intriguing to watch.
Padilha switches between events on the ground at Entebbe's dusty airport and the offices of the Israeli government, where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi) and Defence Minister Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan) debate just how to put an end to this crisis, with so many of the hostages Israeli citizens.
Written by Scottish playwright / screenwriter Gregory Burke ('71), there are some missteps – notably the bizarre inclusion of an Israeli dance piece that the film cuts back and forth to. But, with terrific performances by Marsan and Ashkenazi, not to mention a lively turn by Nonso Anozie as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, Padilha delivers an urgent and vibrant take.
General release from Fri 11 May.