MOVIE: THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT
STARRING: CHRIS EVANS; HALEY BENNETT; GREG KINNEAR; BEN KINGSLEY; MICHAEL KENNETH WILLIAMS
DIRECTED BY: GIDEON RAFF
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
Films that capture an undercover mission to save prisoners, refugees, whether it be Schindler's List, Argo, or Hotel Rwanda, just the risk alone are interesting to be told through the medium of cinema. Those three I listed, that is the high bar of how these stories can be told. The Red Sea Diving Resort is a Netflix original, and although it falls on the mediocre side of the scale, it's still an impressive account of humans coming together to save the lives of others. In 1977 a group of Mossad agents devised a plan to open a beach resort in war-torn Sudan to smuggle Ethiopian Jews to safety in Jerusalem. That is the task at hand, in director Gideon Raff's engaging, but repetitive thriller, starring a burly bearded Chris Evans as a risk taking hero.
There are plenty of negatives and positives to take out of The Red Sea Diving Resort. To start on the positive side, I believe in informing our audiences today, and if we are solely going off that, here is a story I had no idea about. Consider me informed. The screenplay by Raff is aware that these humanitarian crises' is a universal struggle, no matter where you are from, we should hear this story, especially because it might wake some people up to the road that a person takes to survive these atrocities. This push to help others comes from Ari Levinson (Chris Evans), a leading Mossad agent, who puts himself, and his medic friend Sammy Navon (Allesandro Nivola) in the thick of getting families away from the war. His methods are not working, while the risk of death is getting closer to him, till he discovers the resort, and must influence a handful of other agents to go along with him.
The negative side is a mix on the casting, the repetitive nature of the film, and the focus in the narrative. This is an all-star cast with Evans steering the wheel and supporting actors Ben Kingsley, Haley Bennett (as the films lone female character), and Greg Kinnear as a helpful assistant at the American consulate. There is a consistent pace of scenes where they save a group of refugees, face an intense moment where they could be found out at the resort, and repeat. There is also not enough focus on the refugees. They are the ones experiencing the violence, being held at gunpoint, beaten for no reason, yet the focus is solely on the group of agents, like a collection of Mossad Avengers, led by Captain America himself. The script attempts to create enough backstory for each agent, but the task at hand is the major focus, while the refugees are used as props for us to feel sad about. A more focused film would know to shrink the cast of agents and direct the camera towards those running from death.
All in all, it is another Netflix film, which seems to always be a feature with the money invested in exotic locations, a big cast of actors, and not enough time on the script. The Red Sea Diving Resort struggles to find balance, often swinging from one side to the next. Some scenes, such as when Levinson and his team are attempting to drive refugees in a truck past a military checkpoint, are as intense as one would expect, followed by moments of levity at the resort, which feels out of place and misguided. Outside of Evans, the other characters are two-dimensional placeholders. Lacking in depth to be more than just characters to bark orders or fear for their lives. It is Michael Kenneth Williams Character who is the real hero as Kabede Bimro, his performance is powerful as the point man between Levinson, getting people to safety.
Ultimately, The Red Sea Diving Resort is an inspiring story about survival and people working together. On the other hand, it is often bloated and lacking in enough emotion to recommend it above other great humanitarian narratives. I guess you could say it is a movie that you should dip your toe into, but do not dive all the way in.
Written by: Leo Brady