So 7 Days in Entebbe is bad, but it's bad in fascinating, unusual ways. The movie—based on the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight by Palestinian revolutionaries and sympathizers—should be an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it's treated as a plodding historical reenactment. The characters should be larger-than-life figures of action and torment, but they're interchangeable sad sacks. And the drama should be rousing, exciting, and penetrating, packed with "oh-my-god" insights that parallel our current political moment. But in the end, it's sort of like watching a tray of plates fall in slow motion. "Well, that was an entirely preventable shame," you sigh as the credits roll.
The story really is something: Members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, joined by two German sympathizers (Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike, our unnecessary Caucasian points of entry into the story), take forceful command of a Tel Aviv-Athens-Paris flight and hijack it to, at first, Benghazi, and then Entebbe Airport in Uganda, taking its passengers hostage in order to demand Israel's release of Palestinian war prisoners.
We meet all participants in the conflict, including Israel's prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (Lior Ashkenazi) and minister of defense Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan), Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (Nonso Anozie), and of course the dozens of miserable passengers, some of whom may or may not be Israeli spies.
Director José Padilha's biggest mistake is pointlessly intercutting the climactic rescue mission—what truly should've been an exhilarating experience—with a staged, symbolism-heavy dance performance, a groaningly artsy move that will anger both fans of period political thrillers and aficionados of modern dance. It's very easy to see all the things that went wrong during that Air France hijacking; it's a lot harder to figure out how 7 Days in Entebbe made so many consistently bad choices.