The Red Sea Diving Resort - Review
The latest Netflix film, The Red Sea Diving Resort, attempts to provide a powerful commentary on refugees by taking true events and dramatizing them so they work in a movie. The wonderful cast is the only reason this film makes it to the finish line.
As mentioned above, the film's powerful moments worked because of the talent of the cast. However, when I analyzed the trailer for The Red Sea Diving Resort, I noted how Michael Kenneth Williams was going to be the stand out of the movie. That is not the case unfortunately. The movie didn't allow for Williams to really shine. His character Kabede was reduced to two or 3 scenes, and was just a catalyst for Chris Evans' character Ari Levinson to be motivated in his mission.
I know this was inspired by true events, but "white savior" movies are rampant and semi-problematic. A stronger take on the events would be to focus on Kabede, with Ari and Co. being in the background. Still though, the narrative laid out was still able to show a true care and respect for the refugees it was portraying. The actors really made something of a flat script come to life.
Evans, who is sporting his Infinity War beard, is the stand out of the movie. His portrayal of Ari gives you a perfect understanding of who the man is. Ari is a stubborn, driven, broken man addicted to his work. The character development of Ari is peppered in throughout the story, and only adds to the importance of him accomplishing his mission of smuggling Ethiopian refugees from Sudan to Israel.
He is the only character that is fleshed out however. Everyone else is a one dimensional archetype. You have the dangerous assassin, the reluctant doctor, the jack of all trades, and the sexy, mysterious badass backing him up. Then you have the waste of Ben Kingsley's talents by making him the no nonsense bureaucrat that is exasperated by Ari.
This is an important story that preaches a wonderful message. But for a movie about refugees seeking asylum, the movie focuses a ton on the resort facade instead. It is almost like director Gideon Raff wants you to be empathetic towards the people executing the mission more than the subjects of the mission. The movie wants you to care about the help than the refugees, which bogs the film down from living up to its true potential.
The priorities of the movie are extremely skewed. There is one meant-to-be-poignant scene of Ari taking down a sign from the hotel before he leaves it for the last time. While it seems like it was supposed to be a "look at how many people we saved and how great this worked" vibe, it didn't play that way. It played like he was sentimental for the hotel, and that the audience was supposed to miss the resort, instead of celebrate its successful use in the rescue of the refugees.
I don't know how much the movie varied from what actually happened, but since it had a lot of familiar movie tropes, and was a pretty textbook-written movie, I feel that only the concept was used and not much else.
Overall, the movie falls short. But there is some fun to be had if you wish to explore it. The performances alone are worth watching The Red Sea Diving Resort. The film had good intentions, and does seem to really care about the subject matter. It is simply the execution of the story that makes it a bit problematic.
Watch it for yourself and see what you think.
The Red Sea Diving Resort is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.