The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019)

The Red Sea Diving Resort aka Operation Brothers
Director: Gideon Raff
Writer: Gideon Raff
Cast: Chris Evans, Michael Kenneth Williams, Alessandro Nivola, Haley Bennett, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley
Seen on: 21.8.2019

Content Note: racism, (critical treatment of) antisemitism

It’s 1979 and the situation for Ethiopian Jewish refugees in Sudan isn’t exactly great, to put it mildly. Kebede Bimro (Michael Kenneth Williams) is trying to find ways to get them out of there and to Israel. When he teams up with Mossad agent Ari Levinson (Chris Evans), things start to come together. Ari suggest that they could use an old vacation resort as a cover to get the refugees out. Recruiting a team (Alessandro Nivola, Haley Bennet, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell), they set to work.

The Red Sea Diving Resort really is a mess. Not only is it a series of clichés, it is also absolutely racist and uncritically zionist. I can only recommend that you stay far, far away from this one.

I don’t know much about the events this is based on, but I am pretty damn certain that things didn’t happen this way. Why? Because the entire narrative is structured like a template from a script-writing seminar, without any deviation whatsoever, and all characters here are templates, too, boiled down to (stereo-)types.

Plus, the film is filled with white saviors, while the Black characters are either featureless victims, or exaggerated villains. Kebede is a bit of an exception to this – for a while – but in the end, he has to become a helpless victim, too, because he isn’t a bad guy and there is just no other place for Black people in the film.

I can understand that Jewish refugees dream of Israel, hoping to find the safety there that they can’t find in the countries they come from. I do find it a tad weird that they get welcomed home to a place that they have never been to before, but I’m not Jewish and it is not up to me to understand, I can accept it. But this film is absolutely uncritical in its views of Israel. It is just the promised/holy land and nothing else. I found that simplified view of a very complicated matter really jarring. But I guess it fits the template nature of the entire film. It does not have time for complexity or nuance.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, the film is sometimes involuntarily funny (when Bennett is speaking German, for example). But most of all, it is not only forgettable – it should be forgotten.

Summarizing: not worth it.

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