When it comes to planning your weekend, make sure this new Netflix film is your last resort.
Moments into the latest Netflix streaming turkey, Chris Evans takes a queasy look at a truck full of people and then turns around to run away. I can only assume he finally realized what a tremendous mistake he made starring in The Red Sea Diving Resort, and tried to run off the set in search of his agent. I mean, Captain America sure can withstand a few bombs; he did before Marvel came knocking, but one would be hard-pressed to think of a poorer film to follow up the biggest blockbuster of all time. The dialogue is lazy, the thrills are mundane, and while the film has its heart in the right place, it culminates in a squandered opportunity by taking a look through a pair of self-serving eyes.
Is Gideon Raff’s film, which he wrote and directed, one of the worst films of the year? Hardly. Drunk Parents, The Hustle, Replicas, and Benjamin have the top four sewn up and are currently looking for a friend. The Red Sea Diving Resort isn’t nearly as substandard as those films, but you might consider this one just as negligent when it fumbles this type of potential. When you have a man who cut his teeth directing the Emmy award-winning pilot of Homeland, which was adapted into from his own Prisoners of War series on Israeli television, one would assume this would scream a perfect match. Instead, we are treated to such hard-boiled one-liners on a consistent basis as, “Boss, you better take a look at this!” to transition into standard scenes that have no verve or the slightest intrigue.
The film is based on a true story of international agents and heroic citizens of Ethiopia using a deserted retreat in Sudan as a beard to smuggle thousands of Ethiopian Jewish refugees into Israel to escape genocide from local warlords. It may sound far-fetched, and it is if you look at reported history; it was recently declassified (an estimated 90,000 men, women, and children found passage through various missions to Israel in the ’80s). It’s how the film portrays the mission as some flippant, let’s get the band back together, Blues Brothers moment while skipping over the finer points of the hotel front that amounts to as much seriousness as the Cameron Crowe misunderstood classic (but not really) We Bought a Zoo. To make matters worse, this thriller again plays into the “white savior” mentality and completely ignores most of the efforts from community leaders in the country it’s taking place in. Besides a substantially reduced role by The Wire’s Michael Kenneth Williams (after all, everyone needs to live by a code, don’t you?) the largest of any speaking role of a person of diversity is, of course, the villain, Col. Abdel Ahmed, played by Chris Chalk (When They See Us).
The Red Sea Diving Resort wastes its talented cast, that besides Evans and Williams includes Haley Bennett, Greg Kinnear, Michiel Huisman, Alessandro Nivola, and Ben Kingsley. Of the entire group, Nivola, honestly, is the only one who gets away from this film unscathed. He’s always been an underappreciated actor, and his role here is the only one that takes a look of deep reflection, which is perfectly suited for him. Besides that, we see a disturbing amount of playing to the camera machismo, with Evans being the film’s biggest offender. The subject of the film, the brave men and women who risked their lives, the refugees who escaped, and the viewer deserve a film that is worthy of their story. If you are planning your weekend, please, whatever you do, like the film’s trailer suggests, make this your last resort.
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.