Review: 'Red Sea Diving Resort' skims surface

Chris Evans stars in action flick that never finds its bearings

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

A team of Mossad agents helps to smuggle a group of Jewish Ethiopian refugees out of Sudan in the late '70s and early '80s in "The Red Sea Diving Resort," a well-intentioned, would-be thriller that ends up coming off like "Argo" for blockheads. 

Chris Evans leads the team as Ari Levinson, a gung-ho type who's described by his superiors as "reckless and totally out of control." Well of course he is, because this is one of those movies where the cowboy has an insane plan that just may work, if only those lame pencil-pushers back at home base would just buy into his crazy vision. 

Chris Evans and Haley Bennett in "The Red Sea Diving Resort."

That crazy vision involves purchasing a hotel along the Red Sea as a cover for their refugee-smuggling operation. When tourists show up expecting accommodations, well, the team — which includes Rachel (Haley Bennett), Jake (Michiel Huisman) and Sammy (Alessandro Nivola) — decides to run it like a real hotel. That really cheeses off their bosses, including Ben Kingsley's Ethan, who gets flack from his superiors for Ari's wild ideas. 

Writer-director Gideon Raff shifts tones early on, taking "The Red Sea Diving Resort" from a serious thriller about the struggle of Ethiopian Jews yearning for asylum in Jerusalem to a popcorn action movie packed with clichés and corny lines. "If we don't do something, no one will," one character tells another; in another scene we hear, "don't hesitate. You hesitate, you're dead!" The dialogue reads like it was cribbed from movie descriptions on the backs of old VHS tapes.  

Evans plays the entire mission like a surface-level lark, and Raff can't build or sustain a believable air of tension. "The Red Sea Diving Resort" is "inspired by true events," we're told early on, but it can't help but come off like a cheesy movie. 

'The Red Sea Diving Resort'


Rated TV-MA: language, violence

Running time: 129 minutes

On Netflix