Tag Archives: Daniel Brühl

ENTEBBE

Two Star Rating

“…the word ‘unconvincing’ is probably the choice adjective to describe pretty much all of the constituent parts of Padilha‘s piece.” – WaywardWolf.

Considering its potentially inflammatory  subject matter, director José Padilha adopts a surprisingly balanced political approach to this 1970’s era thriller, Entebbe.

Based to some degree upon actual events, Entebbe depicts the story of the hijacking of Air France flight 139 from Tel Aviv to Paris, by a handful of politically motivated freedom fighters.

Forcing the flight to land at a small airfield in Entebbe, Uganda, the hostages are then moved into the decrepit airport terminal where they are separated into two rooms. Jews and non-Jews. The proposed end game from here – should Israel then fail to release a number of captive terrorists, according to the hijackers’ demands – probably needs no further explanation.

Such tales of hijacking we have of course seen umpteen times before. Sadly, Entebbe, the film – aside from informing those of us that weren’t as yet clued up with regards to this particular hijack scenario – offers very little by way of originality, though it could be argued that Padilha does at least attempt to tap into the psychological quandaries faced by two of the German hijackers, Brigitte Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike) and Wilfried Böse (Daniel Brühl), who are both seen to be wrestling with the morality of their actions, fearful of being portrayed as some sort of neo-Nazis.

But it’s all rather unconvincing.

Indeed, the word ‘unconvincing’ is probably the choice adjective to describe pretty much all of the constituent parts of Padilha‘s piece. A film which, sadly, barely hits the mark on any sort of level. Dare I even make reference to Entebbe being something of a fatally grounded movie? One that fails to ever really take off. Hijacked by a poor script and under-cooked characters, as it is.

You get the picture.

Cheap gags, one and all.

Harsh but fair.

Even the film’s ‘climactic’ conclusion centring around counter-terrorism operation Thunderbolt, is clumsy and breathtakingly limp in its reenactment of events, barely raising the pulse level.

Entebbe is effectively floored by a fatal combination of unconvincing characters, a rather walked and talked through narrative, an almost complete absence of either menace or suspense, and hundreds of bewildered looking half-arsed extras being regularly shuffled around from pillar to post to little or no dramatic effect.

Even acknowledging the impact of an initially apparently inconsequential interpretive dance routine which is then used to reasonable effect in enhancing the film’s latter stages, such effective devices are few and far between, and offered nowhere near enough to leave this particular viewer feeling anything other than significantly underwhelmed.

On the plus side, hats off to the Israeli Commandos on somehow successfully turning an initial few ham-fisted brush strokes into an immaculate spray-painted body job,  converting a brown Mercedes car into a black one in the process.

Hmmm. Miraculous, yet… unconvincing.

There’s that word again.

 

 

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ALONE IN BERLIN

“…director Vincent Perez – resisting the temptation to pad things out with dubious filler or the concoction of unnecessarily distracting back stories…”

Wayward Wolf.

The death of their only son in combat has driven a German couple to risk their own lives in defiance of the Führer himself.

Provoked by a combination of deep-set grief and simmering resentment, Otto Quangel (Brendan Gleeson), is determined to make a stand against what he perceives to be an unjust, brutal Nazi regime. His wife, Anna (Emma Thompson), refuses to allow Otto to do such a thing alone, and by association, therefore becomes the accomplice to his plans.

Painstakingly Otto begins the laborious task of disguising his handwriting in order to create almost 290 cards, each of which is emblazoned with a strong anti-authoritarian message of defiance, something he refers to as “Freie Presse” (free press). Each of these he then deposits in strategic public locations around the city of Berlin, hopeful that his anarchic messages will incite some form of radical response from a down-trodden German public.

No matter their impact on the psyche of the German people, it transpires that all but eighteen of these cards will ultimately be turned in to the authorities by a public too frightened not to do so.

Predictably, Otto and Anna’s actions soon prompt something of a manhunt in the City.

Brendan Gleeson and particularly Emma Thompson put in fine performances as a couple riddled with sorrow and driven to the point where they no longer have anything to lose, but it is arguably Daniel Brühl’s performance as the rather weasel-ish police detective, Escherich, that steals the limelight here. His persual of “the threat” posed by Otto and Anna becomes something of an obsession. Frequently out-thought or wrong-footed in his endeavours, he is willing to betray anyone, and do literally anything to solve a case which threatens to get away from him; particularly once the SS get involved, ramping up the pressure to close the net on the elusive pair of renegades.

Although nicely shot and well-paced, Alone in Berlin is a fairly straight forward premise, and judged on such criteria, there’s perhaps not enough to really make it stand out from an historically long and illustrious back catalogue of Second World War-themed film-making. That said, Alexandre Desplat’s soundtrack is memorable and worthy of mention. Suitably evocative, it successfully conjures up a bleak mood of despair with its refreshingly traditional use of  both recurring themes and motifs, embellishing the film significantly and substantially.

On balance, Alone in Berlin delivers well. Both engaging and suspenseful, one can put this down to a number of factors, but primarily owing to director Vincent Perez resisting the temptation to pad things out with dubious filler or the concoction of unnecessarily distracting back stories, allowing instead a refreshingly concise and to-the-point retelling of Otto and Anna’s fraught, daring and ultimately fool-hardy act of resistance against a wicked ideology.

Well worth a watch.