TL;DR – A really ambitious film that unfortunately falls into the same traps as a lot of Hollywood films do when depicting Africa’s history.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene but some pictures of the resort during the credits
Tonight we take a look at a film that attempts to discover a part of our history that has not been explored at all. However, Hollywood has a very poor history in exploring Africa’s history with film after film glossing over the complexities for hero moments of usually a white protagonist saving the day. While The Red Sea Diving Resort attempts to step away from this past it can’t help but fall into the same traps.
So to set the scene, in the 1980s Ethiopia was tearing itself apart during a bloody civil war, a lot of the innocents were being caught in the crossfire, especially minority groups. One of those groups that were targeted was Ethiopia’s Jewish community. However, there is some hope with Israel’s Mossad sending agents like Ari Levinson (Chris Evans) in to help them get to refugee camps in Sudan. However, this is just a temporary measure, they need a way to get them out of the country. So a plan is set in motion to set up a fake resort on the coast of Sudan as a front to help them smuggle them out to waiting boats. However, this is not something that you can do forever without attracting notice, made worse when actual tourists arrive at the fake resort.
it comes to how close the film matches with reality, it is never a good sign
when they have to use ‘inspired by true events’ rather than based on in the
opening credits. While I have studied International Relations, I do have to say
I am not as familiar with the Ethiopian Civil War as I should be. However, even
without the information, it is clear from the film that they are glossing over
a lot of things. It almost feels like the film knows that and around those
moments we get a shirtless Chris Evans almost to distract us but it does not
One thing that does feel really odd is the dissonant tone that fluctuates throughout the film. The film shifts in tone from almost jaunty, to deadly serious, to jaunty and back again. Part of this is just the nature of the film and the time, but some of it just feels like dissident editing that just didn’t quite come together or a miscommunication between actors and tone. To add to this, it really feels like a lot of the conflict and tension was manufactured for the film rather than reality. This becomes more pronounced when it feels like the Ethiopian refugees are nothing more than props in their own history. All of this is not helped by some pacing that feels like it is dragging all the time making parts of the film really dull.
do feel that I have been harsh with The Red Sea Diving Resort and I know that
it is trying. While not everything works, a lot of the performances are still
fine, I liked the banter between Avi and Walton Bowen (Greg Kinnear) the ‘cultural
attaché’ to the American Embassy in Khartoum. The group of operatives like Rachel
Reiter (Haley Bennett), Jacob ‘Jake’ Wolf (Michiel Huisman), and Sammy Navon (Alessandro
Nivola) are all interesting characters. Having Ben Kingsley play the head
operative in Mossad was a genius set of casting. Also from a technical
perspective, the film is perfectly solid even if the music is a bit lacklustre.
In the end, do we recommend The Red Sea Diving Resort? That’s difficult to say. I mean it is a film about refugees that are championing us doing something about them, so that is something to be welcomed. However, overall I came away from the film feeling that what we got was a very edited and almost clinical work that just does not reflect reality. It is just disappointing that in the end, I think this is a film that will be known more for one scene of a mostly de-clothed Chris Evans than it is for the substance it was trying to convey.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Red Sea Diving Resort
Directed by – Gideon Raff
Written by – Gideon Raff
Music by – Mychael Danna
Cinematography by – Roberto Schaefer
Edited by – Tim Squyres
Production/Distribution Companies – Bron Studios, EMJAG Productions, Shaken Not Stirred & Netflix
Starring – Chris Evans, Michael K. Williams, Haley Bennett, Michiel Huisman, Alessandro Nivola, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley, Alex Hassell, Mark Ivanir, Chris Chalk & Alona Tal
Rating – Australia: MA15+