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‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’ review: Chris Evans can’t quite save this forgettable outing with too many tonal shifts

‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’ suffers from a mish-mash of tonal shifts

‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’ suffers from a mish-mash of tonal shifts   | Photo Credit: Netflix

A film that needed a lot more gravitas and focus on the characters, instead of sticking to the ‘white saviour trope’

If this storyline sounds familiar at all, it is because it has several things in common with the 2012 Ben Affleck-directed Argo. Both films are based on a true story and begin in 1979, both star a bearded, white guy with a young child and is having problems in his marriage... and the phrase ‘leave no one behind’ is said in both. However, that’s where the similarities end. While Argo was a tense, taut thriller where the characters realise how high the stakes are, The Red Sea Diving Resort varies in tone throughout its runtime, resulting in a barely watchable film.

The film begins with the horrors of the conflict as Kabede Bimro (Michael K Williams), in a voiceover, gives us a sense of the situation in Ethiopia. Families are escaping their homes, led by Kabede to a truck where Ari Levinson (Chris Evans) and Sammy (Alessandro Nivola), are waiting to take them across the border to Sudan. And then... one mother realises that her son is missing.

Cue Chris Evans in Captain America mode rushing back from the truck, proclaiming that no one gets left behind and snatching up the child in the nick of time. That scene sets the tone for his character, who, as we repeatedly hear, is reckless and tends to make things up as he goes along. This feature particularly irks his friend Sammy who remarks about it but doesn’t do much else.

The Red Sea Diving Resort
  • Cast: Chris Evans, Michael K Williams, Alessandro Nivola, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley, Michiel Huisman, Haley Bennett
  • Director: Gideon Raff
  • Runtime: 2 hr 9 mins
  • Storyline: Using the cover of a fake hotel in Sudan, Mossad agents smuggle Jewish Ethiopians to Israel

The duo are called back to Israel where Ethan (Ben Kingley wasted in this role) informs Ari that he is being taken off the mission. That is when Ari comes up with the idea of leasing out the abandoned Red Sea Diving Resort from the Sudanese government, using the fake hotel as a cover, and getting Israeli Navy Seals to take the fleeing Jewish Ethiopians to an Israeli ship disguised as a petroleum service vessel. The exposition is helpfully laid out by the Defence Minister who even tells a room full of Israeli officials and agents that Mossad is the Israeli intelligence service.

This is where the film takes a sudden turn from being serious and poignant (there is an overhead shot of a line of people holding each other and wading across a deep river) to becoming something of a heist thriller, especially when Ari travels to different locations to assemble his team comprising Angela (Haley Bennett), Max (Alex Hassell last seen in The Boys), Jake (Michiel Huisman) and the long-suffering Sammy. Real guests turn up at the long-abandoned hotel but somehow the gang is able to take care of them, and even end up offering tai chi and diving classes. This is followed by a wholly unnecessary extended sequence of the team underwater, looking at coral reefs. This sequence is only superseded by the montage of the mission set to Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf, a song that is so peppy that it takes the audience out of the film.

The rest of the film has the team dealing with a menacing Sudanese military official who suspects that refugees are disappearing from the camps. Greg Kinnear, who plays a CIA agent is also in the mix, but again doesn’t have that much to do.

The film makes heavy use of editing techniques such as dissolve and wipes, perhaps to give us a sense of the time period the film is set in. However, one wishes that the film had a lot more gravitas and focussed on letting us know more about the characters instead of sticking to the ‘white saviour trope’ (the Jewish Ethiopians are just a mass of faces.)

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 3:14:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/the-red-sea-diving-resort-review-chris-evans-cant-quite-save-this-forgettable-outing-with-too-many-tonal-shifts/article28859459.ece

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