The Red Sea Diving Resort ★★

In the early 1980s, a clandestine unit of Mossad agents bought and reopened a deserted beach resort on the shores of war-torn Sudan, and used it as a cover through which to smuggle thousands of persecuted Ethiopian Jews to the safety of Jerusalem. When this story was declassified a few years ago, it made for a remarkable new chapter in the history of the Jewish diaspora — one that hinges on ancient Hebraic themes of exile, the divine value of a single human life, and the pursuit of a promised land where all of God’s people might live in peace.

Now that it’s been adapted to the screen as a generic Netflix thriller that emphasizes Israeli heroism over Ethiopian suffering (not to mention the bravery required for them to leave their homes and reach the coast), this story only makes for a dull footnote to the history of white savior movies.

As an addition to the cinematic legacy of Chris Evans’ facial hair, however, “The Red Sea Diving Resort” is nothing short of essential. Effectively playing Captain Israel, the Marvel alum stars as Ari Levinson, a scruffy Mossad agent who hatches the big idea in the span of a single cut. Ari is more impulsive than Steve Rogers ever was, but he’s still got the soul of a superhero; a high-octane prologue, in which the fictitious spy risks his neck to save a helpless Ethiopian boy from a squad of armed militants, tells us everything there is to know about the character and the two-dimensional movie that writer-director Gideon Raff has built around him.

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