Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: Raid on Entebbe - 1976

Raid on Entebbe
Director: Irvin Kershner

A plane gets hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. After a few course changes they finally end up in Uganda. They demand that Israel comply and release some fifty imprisoned freedom fighters. Some of them are held in other countries than Israel of course but their main opponent remains to be Israel. Being in Uganda president Idi Amin seems to be protecting the hijackers. He claims to be doing everything he can for the hostages but his reasons are uncertain. About half of the hostages are released however and Idi Amin claims that it’s he doing, that he negotiated with the hijackers himself. Those who remain are all Jews and most of them residents of Israel. So what is Israel going to do about it? The official policy is not to negotiate with terrorists at all. They want the citizens back but are the price of letting all the “freedom fighters” out of prison – the who is who of terrorism – too high of a price to pay? A military action is initiated – operation Thunderbolt – the hostages are to be freed by force!

This is one of those “lost” Charles Bronson films. I may have been looking at all the wrong places but I haven’t been able to find in on DVD until quite recently. I’m glad it’s been released since it’s a real gem when it comes to movies made for TV. There are only a handful of them that reach the standard of “real” movies. There is Citizen X, this one and The Park is Mine but not so many more. I guarantee that I have forgotten some of them now but the general idea is that there aren’t many of them that reach this level of quality!

To be honest, Charles Bronson isn’t in it very much. He certainly does not have a major part, not even one of the bigger supporting parts. His role is quite small actually. And there are enough other stars to be sure too. There are people like Peter Finch, Martin Balsam, Horst Buchholz, John Saxon, Robert Loggia, James Woods and Yaphet Kotto to name a few. The latter’s interpretation of Idi Amin is fantastic. This might very well be Yaphet Kottos best performance of all time!

Apparently this is based on true events, I’m not too familiar with them but it makes a lot of sense. It seems pretty legit and as far as I’ve been able to dig the deaths of the named hostages and soldiers seems to be correct. One thing that bugs me though is that the lives of the higher ranking officers always seem to be worth more than the general soldiers, the privates. This isn’t anything that’s unique for this movie of course; it’s almost always portrayed that way. We have the officers and we have the cannon fodder. This might be historically correct in this case (no, I won’t get into details) but it still bothers me. I realize that it doesn’t have anything to do with the film itself really but I can’t help myself. This is the only negative thing I have to say about it!

So, this is a film very close to perfection. I’m kind of split when I’m about to grade it. Should I consider my problem with the ranking issues as such a major thing that I let it influence my grading of the whole movie or not? I really don’t know. It’s certainly an aspect of things that makes the viewing experience somewhat annoying. Well… I’d give this one…: