Inspired by true-life rescue missions, The Red Sea Diving Resort is the 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.
What was the plan? To send a group of Jews to a Muslim country, to a place where they may die, to run a fake hotel, to rescue a group of Black Jews, that may not survive the trip across the 1,000km trip across the desert, to be smuggled out to sea by Israeli navy seals to an Israeli ship… disguised as a petroleum service vessel. What could go wrong? It’s intricate, it’s difficult, it’s maddening… yet, they tried it.
Ari Levenson (Chris Evans) is dedicated to rescuing as many Ethiopian Jews as he can and naturally has the heart of a hero. Kabede Bimro is an Ethiopian Jew who helped thousands of people flee to safety during extremely dangerous times, but as the film continues, his efforts get overshadowed by that of Ari’s. That has caused the film to receive a barrage of bad reviews.
What it lacks in authenticity it makes up for in suspense. If you go in blind without knowing the true story, you’re probably going to like this. It’s very suspenseful, there’s action, and you’ll feel good because you’re watching humans helping other humans. The bad part? It oozes white savior complex and focuses more on Ari’s efforts instead of Kabede’s and he’s the one whose risk is greater.
At the end of the day, I give The Red Sea Diving Resort a 7.5. It’s a shame that director Gideon Raff couldn’t just put the story to screen. The story is a blockbuster in itself, without the extraneous Hollywood additives of topless Chris Evans, naked men, and pilates on the beach. Nonetheless, it’s available now on Netflix and it’s worth a watch.