The Red Sea Diving Resort Movie Review: The Red Sea Diving Resort, Netflix's new offering, is based on the real-life mission, Operation Brothers, carried out in the early '80s in Sudan. The purpose of the operation was to rescue Jewish Ethiopians from Sudan and get to them Israel, without getting caught by the militants. In the film, the task for this job falls on Ari Levinson (Chris Evans), a reckless Mossad agent, who with the assistance of a local, Kebede (Michael K Williams), helps in bringing refugees to the refugee camps in Sudan, but couldn't take them beyond from there. The Red Sea Diving Resort Trailer: Chris Evans Turns the Captain of a Rescue Mission in This Nail-Biting First Footage (Watch Video).
Back in Israel, Ari, with the help of his senior Ethan Levin (Ben Kingsley), hatches a plan to make this evacuation happen. The said plan involves buying an abandoned hotel in Sudan called 'The Red Sea Diving Resort' and try to convince the Sudanese government that they are running it. And in the pretext of doing so, rescue the refugees from there by sea. Ari hires a group of trusted aides (Haley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell) to take over the resort. Their plans hit a slight lag when actual guests arrive at their resort, so the agents have to properly run the hotel so as not to create any suspicions.
The real-life story that inspired The Red Sea Diving Resort is a tale worth telling on screen. It is the story of victory of humanity over nefarious forces (even though Israel agents aren't themselves as morally whitewashed as shown in the film), and who doesn't like that?
If intentions were all that needed to make a movie great, then The Red Sea Diving Resort would have gotten full marks. What to do, though, we also need a more convincing narrative and tighter direction to make a good film too. This is where Gideon Raff's film feels like a big letdown.
Despite the depiction of harrowing circumstances of the refugees and the heavy risk involved in the evacuation, the movie makes it all look very superficial. Check this - at the beginning of the film, a girl who was seemingly raped by the militants, leaves the refugee group as they try to cross a river and commits suicide. However, instead of making us feel horrified at what just happened, the movie just brushes it off and then spends time to show a buff Evans doing pushups while in a cell. And that's just the beginning.
As the movie proceeds, The Red Sea Diving Resort spends too much time in showing the Ari and his friends in various states of undress and in the frivolities of running a fake resort.
I am not saying that these scenes aren't fun. But when there is something far more serious going on in the background, then they feel like unwanted distractions. The Red Sea Diving Resort also makes its supposedly terrifying villains act like bumbling fools, letting the heroes escape with ease from very tight situations. They seem to have taken coaching lessons from villains in Salman Khan's Tiger Zinda Hai.
The scene where Ari and co get nearly caught while trying to send a batch of refugees on boats to the ship, is perhaps one of the rare scenes in the film that feels nail-biting. But how the bad guys follow up on that is downright laughable - if Ari claims that the refugees that they sent across on boats are their resort guests going for a night dive, then can't you wait for a bit to see if he is telling the truth?
Watch The Trailer of The Red Sea Diving Resort here:
With such kind of lazy storytelling, we really don't feel the tension that was needed in films like this to make the end-victory worth it.
In the end, it is the refugees who feel like casualties in the movie's attempt to glorify its white saviours, especially Kebede. He may act as a narrator, and in essence, is a selfless hero who puts others lives in front of his. But The Red Sea Diving Resort offers very little scenes for us to know him better, despite the character being so crucial to the film.
As for the performances, every actor in the cast is decent, though Alessandro Niivolo stands out with an earnest act as the sole voice of reason in the group. Chris Evans feels like he had shot for the film during the breaks of Avengers: Infinity War.
Watching The Red Sea Diving Resort reminded me of Don Cheadle's gripping Hotel Rwanda and Ben Affleck's thrilling Argo. Unfortunately, the Netflix thriller lacks neither the nuance of Hotel Rwanda nor the nail-biting tension that makes Argo so good. The Red Sea Diving Resort feels more like a missed opportunity to tell a truly terrific tale of humanity.