True Story/Flat Fiction: Our Review of ‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’ on Netflix

Posted in Movies, Netflix, What's Streaming? by - August 01, 2019
True Story/Flat Fiction: Our Review of ‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’ on Netflix

True stories usually make for some interesting ones…

While The Red Sea Diving Resort is certainly a story worthy of being told, it only barely keeps its head above water as it leans on far too many tired cinematic conventions and tropes to be truly memorable.

Inspired by remarkable true life rescue missions, The Red Sea Diving Resort is the incredible story of a group of international agents and brave Ethiopians who in the early 80s used a deserted holiday retreat in Sudan as a front to smuggle thousands of refugees to Israel. The undercover team carrying out this mission is led by the charismatic Ari Kidron (Chris Evans) and courageous local Kabede Bimro (Michael Kenneth Williams).

There’s no doubting the intent behind telling this story with enough proper elements to make for an entertaining true to life political/social justice type thriller but The Red Sea Diving Resort just doesn’t spend enough time on character development not being 100% certain of the movie that’s it’s trying to be as it lands somewhere in between the likes of Munich & Air America tonally and we don’t get invested in enough of the characters along the way.

Writer/Director Gideon Raff certainly has an interesting enough pedigree as his hit show Prisoners of War inspired another hit show in Homeland and while we can’t knock the look and visual esthetic of the film which we’re all top notch he shows an obvious weakness in character development.  Only Chris Evans’ character got any real kind of back story it as the narrative on a whole was far too focused on setting up the overall action of the movie.  Raff obviously has some talent, but it’s very obviously in more of a long form story telling kind of arc as the supporting players in this film all felt very generic or just terribly underdeveloped in their stories and we get too quickly to the set up of the mission rather than the motivations of everyone getting there.  Raff allows for broad strokes, but it all needed a little more nuance.

Sure Chris Evans is more than good enough in the swarthy and heroic leading man role of Ari Kidron and the motivations behind his and the other desires (though broadly applied) is pretty clear, only Evans gets some back story to bring to the table in a real way.  Michael Kenneth Williams is fine as Kabede, their man on the ground helping to get the African Jews out and to Israel but he plays into the archetypal beats of the character far too much, while Ben Kingsley is only around to scowl and Alessandro Nivola is wasted as partner and best friend to Evans’ character while Hailey Bennett and Greg Kinnear kind of just stand around.

Ultimately, there’s really nothing wrong with The Red Sea Diving Resort and its decent enough to put on the TV during a lazy summer day, but it’s not something that will inspire any kind of water cooler talk after the credits roll, because you’ll be hard pressed to remember all that much of it.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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