After Queen of Katwe premièred in Kampala at the end of 2016, Uganda Revenue Authority was literally in a hot seat after it emerged that they had double taxed the production resulting into Uganda losing revenue to South Africa where part of the chess drama was shot.
Before the dust even settled, Working Title Films, a British production house was at the door with intentions of breathing life into the story of Amin and the hijacked Air France that landed in Entebbe.
Then aptly titled Entebbe, the film was poised to be shoot on location at the old Entebbe airport where much of the real life events in 1976 took place.
However, for the second time, Uganda wasn’t ready and this saw the film migrate from Entebbe to Malta – As part of the deal, Malta promised good tax rebates/holiday, good weather, army uniforms, guns and their old airport.
And like that, Malta got the liberty to create an impression of Uganda they understood best.
Film being a make believe, Malta generally struggled to create an outlook of Uganda or even Africa – with only an old building to work with, the film strangely fails to imply or convince us they were in Uganda and not some random room in German or Malta.
But of course that’s not something we can hold against them – we can only hold them against such things that ended up being the making of the writers.
The film opens with a dance sequence, well choreographed, up beat but somehow a stand alone – minutes later in the film, it was disturbing to try reason as to why this particular sequence was important.
7 Days in Entebbe uses a circular formula of telling it’s story, an interesting format though sadly, they choose to open and close with things that don’t add a thing to what those that were held in Entebbe for 7 days went through.
Of course, there have been already two films and a documentary about the hijack and in many ways, you expected something different and of course, director José Padilha tries by focusing on key influencers and going back and forth between events before and after the hijack.
Even the dance, it was new, refreshing and exciting especially on key events that could use tension and suspense, the dance offered it but somehow failed to gain relevance.
The dance show involved a girlfriend of one of the soldiers that ended up in Uganda on the rescue mission – as exciting as that sounds, the writers didn’t fully give the dancer a strong connection to the raid besides her man and of course didn’t give her man a serious attachment to the raid or its victims.
For a movie that spent most of the time interrogating the minds of two of the terrorists, played by Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl, then played on the politics between the prime minister and his defence minister, the dance sequence that mostly provided beauty but didn’t necessarily carry the story forward became far fetched.
And finally, for any Ugandan that watched the film, in all ways, you have to give major props to Nonso Anozie for daring the Idi Amin role even when he lacked any mannerisms or even resemblance for the role.
The film has though been well received in Uganda that its one week showcase had to be extended thanks to the convincing number of bums on those seats.