The recent film 7 Days in Entebbe portrays the daring and successful Israeli raid to rescue over 100 hostages held in Uganda by Palestinian and German Communist terrorists. To Liel Leibovitz, the movie—despite its made-for-Hollywood source material—is an artistic and intellectual failure:
No matter who’s doing the talking, the question pondered [by the characters in 7 Days in Entebbe] is the same: how long must we fight? The answer, to all but high-minded screenwriters intent on making serious movies about moral conundrums, is not too complicated: as long as there are bad guys with guns trying to kill us. In 7 Days, however, the bad guys aren’t that bad—they’re German intellectuals, which means that, periodically, they must put aside their AK-47s and debate the dialectical nature of history.
The villain-as-grad-student paradigm isn’t inherently terrible, nor is it historically inaccurate. Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann, the plane’s two German kidnappers, were, by many survivors’ accounts, prone to lengthy conversations about justice and virtue and other abstractions. . . .
Like much of Hollywood these days, [however], 7 Days believes that a movie’s primary responsibility is to make progressive statements, not unfettered art. The message . . . is best delivered in bursts of political speechifying. Sadly for the bien pensants, however, we unwashed masses go to the movies to be entertained, not educated, which leaves the film in a bind. . . . The film’s climactic scene, for example, the raid on the terminal, is shot in infuriating slow-motion and cross-cut with a modern dance performance, forcing you to embrace its sophomoric war-as-metaphor theme one last, frustrating time. . . . Catharsis is not permitted. Neither is fun.
Which is not only an artistic failing but also a moral and maybe even a theological one. . . . The movie opens with a title card that explains that while some see the hijackers as terrorists, others view them as freedom fighters. It ends with more title cards, informing us that the nice soul-searching prime minister we’ve come to admire, [Yitzḥak] Rabin, was assassinated by a religious Jewish zealot who did not share his enlightened views about the futility of the fight. These bookends are not incidental; they are the film, and everything else that happens in-between is just there to serve the vapid and vacuous statement that the film chooses to make.