Ever since Netflix began to rule digital air, Israel has found its place with testo-thrillers like 7 Days in Entebbe, Fauda and When Heroes Fly. The real star is Mossad, whose impudent courage has spawned a host of impossible legends—all true. The Red Sea Diving Resort is based on a real story about ‘Operation Brothers’, an audacious 1980s Israeli rescue operation which succesfully smuggled around 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to waiting Israeli boats from genocidal Sudan.
Those who watched the pulse-racing Munich and the gritty Fauda will wish the movie’s director Gideon Raff would stick to writing TV scripts he is good at, like Homeland. The Red Sea Diving Resort is a masterpiece in vapidity, starring a largely shirtless Chris Evans as the Salman Khan-ish spy Ari Levinson, his sartorially absurd boss Ethan Levin (Ben Kingsley) who paces the desert with a British accent, the sexily steely Haley Bennet with Aeon Flux choke holds and a talented bunch of fellow actors whose talents Raff has managed to bury deeper than corpses in a mass grave.
The opening scene of Evans doing pushups on the back of a truck is mystifying—what is it meant to prove? Captain America can do pushups? By the time the first 15 minutes are over, we haplessly realise that Raff has cooked up a storm of cliches: roles (leery African minister who takes a fat bribe for a hotel licence); existential crisis (wife has left Levinson who can’t help helping people); dialogue (“If we don’t do something, no one will”); cloned scenes (Tears of The Sun murderous militia); suspense (last minute rescue of kid from a machine gun weilding, machete obsessed ethnic cleanser).
The supporting cast or spies as you may call them for the duration of the film is made up of angsty (of course) surgeon Sammy Navon (Alessandro Nivola), ace diver Jake Wolf (Michiel Huisman) and expert sniper Max Rose (Alex Hassell) who misses lunch when he has to bring someone down from the resort roof with a harpoon gun. Raff has thrown in all the African bromides he could think of: refugee camp squalor, dicey river crossing, homicidal cigar chewing military officer and a final runway chase when the good guys get away—that sign of relief is from the viewer who has just realised there is no need to watch such inanities anymore.