After the bittersweet end of being Captain America, Chris Evans returns with a brand new Netflix movie. The Red Sea Diving Resort sees Evans play a different type of hero, this time in the real world.
The Red Sea Diving Resort is described as a spy thriller. The film is about the rescuing of Ethiopian Jewish refugees from Sudan in the late ’70s. The film is based on true events. The reception of the film has been divisive, with many criticisms arising from the liberties taken with the true story. However, this review will attempt to critique the film on its own merits. Of which there is only one, Evans himself.
The Red Sea Diving Resort Is Great On Paper
A Jewish agent working for Mossad, along with a ragtag bunch of spies embark on an unrealistically improbable mission to save thousands of refugees from a war-torn and volatile country. Leading the charge is Ari, (Chris Evans) a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of hero who jumps headfirst into danger. It’s his passion for rescuing the refugees that moves most of the film’s plot forward.
Image via Netflix
The group he ends up recruiting is just as interesting. It consists of a femme fatale in Rachel (Hayley Bennett), a free-spirited ladies man in Jacob (Michiel Huisman) and a care-free sniper in Max (Alex Hassell). He also convinces his former friend Sammy (Alessandro Nivola) to come along, despite him disapproving of Ari’s tactics. A lot of conflict being foreshadowed right there.
After their former avenues of rescuing the refugees fail, Ari forms an outrageous and outlandish plan. He manages to purchase an abandoned diving resort in Sudan to use as a front to justify their presence while rescuing refugees in the darkness of night. Everything goes hunky-dory until real tourists start arriving at the resort, expecting a coastal holiday with morning yoga, beach fun, and diving adventures.
It sounds full of opportunities for tension, action, light-hearted humour and emotionally moving character development. None of which pays off in the movie.
Why The Red Sea Diving Resort Sank
The film is far from being a thriller. The pacing of the movie itself, despite a tight story, is lacklustre and stale. The humour barely lands. The character development is surface-level exposition. And the entire operation moves in a way that we never really feel invested in the mission, characters or any of the events unfolding on screen.
Image via Netflix
The entire saving grace of The Red Sea Doing Resort is Chris Evans himself. Evans’ natural charisma, raw acting talent is really what makes the film watchable. You even mistake Evans’ efforts as contributing to the quality of the film itself. But really, it’s just him and his performance that stands out.
But even then, the writing of Evans’ character and his depiction feels very familiar. The resolute and impassioned way that Evans plays Ari, can easily be described as basically Captain America in the third act of Avengers: Infinity War. A long-haired, bearded Evans struggling against forces much larger than him in a desperate attempt to save the greater good.
Netflix’s Problem With Action Blockbusters With Big Names
It’s undeniable that Netflix has found a niche with their romantic comedies. In the last few years, films like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Always Be My Maybe have been massive successes for the streaming giant. However, their attempt at action blockbusters has been less than successful.
2017’s Will Smith and Joel Egerton led Bright, directed by David Ayer saw a unique idea and world with massive franchise potential. However, despite the big action stars headlining the film, and a successful director, the movie was a critical disaster. Bright currently holds a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite this Netflix is still reportedly going forward with a sequel to the fantasy-inspired cop drama.
Image via Netflix.
Even the sequel to one of the most successful international films of all time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny failed to live up to expectations. The most recent Triple Frontier, which saw the combined talents of Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund did nothing for Netflix. Despite favourable reviews and a decent showing, the film did not have the expected reaction or buzz that Netflix could have wanted.
Where Netflix Is Going Wrong And How To Recover?
Netflix’ big push into original film production came with the intention of reaching the same heights as traditional film studios. They achieved their goal with Roma leading the Oscars last year. However, its original film line-up, with the exception of Roma, is mostly a deep hole of critically panned movies.
Many of Netflix original series, on the hand, are not just successful but have become staples of current pop culture. Stranger Things, The Marvel original series (now cancelled), Queer Eye, Glow, and Orange Is The New Black are but some of Netflix’s original shows that have broken the mould. But when doing shorter form feature-length films, with the biggest talent, the result more often than not ends up in a resounding ‘meh’.
Image via Netflix.
Is pouring money into big talent, big stars, and big films going to be sustainable for Netflix going forward? Especially given that the smaller films and unknowns are rising to unprecedented fame and costing them a lot less.
Whatever the problem, Netflix needs to re-access its current model of original film production that may see huge stars in front of and behind the camera, with results that feel mediocre. And this is despite the effort-less convenience of watching these films from the comfort of our own homes. I’m sure the reaction would be a lot more negative if we had to experience the same mediocrity in theatres in a communal setting.
The Red Sea Diving Resort is now streaming on Netflix.
Do you think Netflix movies are not as good as their series? Let us know in the comment below.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.