Raid on Entebbe (1976) – Movie Review


Whatever your opinions on the ongoing and everlasting saga between Israel and Palestine, surely everyone can agree that the only way to fully explore every socio-political aspect of this whole issue is through a gung-ho, sweating and tanned action film starring Charles Bronson. Who else could bring the two nations together but the man who punched and grimaced his way to victory in Death Wish?

The problem with Raid on Entebbe is that it is boring. It’s is a film in which Palestinian terrorists take over and hold to ransom a plane full of tourists, landing the plane in Entebbe, Uganda. There’s no forward motion through the film, no compulsion or weight that one expects from action films. Watching an action film should be like rolling down a hill – there needs to be a momentum that builds and builds, resulting in a shocking but ultimately pain-free conclusion. Raid on Entebbe has none of this, and somehow makes being held hostage by Palestinian terrorists in Uganda seem more tedious and annoying than anything else.

The tone of the film suffers as the film wobbles from set-piece to set-piece towards a groaning and predictable conclusion – scenes of gunfire and shouting are inter-cut with shots of a little old American lady providing the comic relief with mock-ignorance to the calamity and danger that surrounds her. It’s this shifting tone that makes the film difficult to become absorbed in, let alone enjoy.

Charles Bronson may feature prominently on the poster but he is actually not the main star of the show – the main character is Yitzhak Rabin, lead hijacker, played by Oscar winner Peter Finch. Since this movie was released, Finch’s name has been overtaken by Bronson’s in the pop culture landscape, which is the way of movies. Bronson doesn’t feature that heavily, which may explain why more people don’t get punched in the face.

The only thing notable about this movie is that the lead actor, Peter Finch, died shortly after its release. His Oscar win was posthumous and this film was his last. It’s an unfortunately slight film with which to end a career with and a film that otherwise slipped through the cracks, into obscurity.

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