In a world weary of terrorism, it is hard to imagine the global shock created in 1976 by the real-life events dramatized in José Padilha’s international thriller 7 Days in Entebbe. When an Air France jet is hijacked by German radicals (played by Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike) in support of the Palestinian cause and flown to Uganda, an elite group of Israeli commandos hatch a daring plot to rescue the passengers. Meticulously researched, the film captures how each character, caught in the crossfire of geopolitical forces, played their part in a historical event that still reverberates today. For producer Tim Bevan, “7 Days in Entebbe is a political thriller about a world that’s not dissimilar to our own, and it offers insight into politics that are appropriate to our culture today.”
With 7 Days in Entebbe out in theaters this Friday, we showcase some other powerful international thrillers. From spies fighting the Cold War to individuals pitted against global forces, here are thrilling tales that take the world as their stage.
The Cold War is exposed in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Gary Oldman was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as George Smiley, the stone-faced master spy tasked with finding the mole deep inside British intelligence, in Tomas Alfredson’s electrifying adaption of John Le Carré’s masterpiece Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Moving from London to Budapest to Istanbul, the film spotlights the global reach of Cold War espionage. But what makes this complex world of conspiracies and political paranoia meaningful is “because ultimately it’s a story about friendship, love lost, betrayal, loyalty and all of those things that we as people connect to,” explains Oldman.
The Debt calculates the cost of revenge.
In John Madden’s The Debt —adapted from the Israeli hit Ha-Hov—Helen Mirren plays Rachel Singer, a veteran Mossad agent who is forced to confront a thirty-year-old secret she had hoped to keep buried. In 1965, a younger Singer (played by Jessica Chastain) joins two other spies (Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas) to hunt down the Nazi known as the “Surgeon of Birkenau” in East Berlin. Now, the older Singer must take responsibility for what really happened three decades before. “With just the right balance of sophistication, romance, and intrigue…the film delivers both as a love story and as an old-fashioned espionage thriller,” extols Film Comment.
Love knows no borders in The Constant Gardener.
In Fernando Meirelles’ adaptation of John Le Carré’s The Constant Gardener, Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is Kenyan-based diplomat searching for the truth behind the death of his wife (played by Rachel Weisz in an Oscar-winning turn). Fueled by his personal grief, Quayle travels across Europe and Africa for clues to her fate and uncovers in the process an international conspiracy of corporate greed and political corruption. For USA Today, this global thriller “offers passion, betrayal, gorgeous cinematography, social commentary, stellar performances and clever wit puts it in a special category near perfection.”
Atomic Blonde gives us a spy for a new generation.
David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde proves that international thrillers are not just the province of men anymore. Charlize Theron explodes on the screen as Lorraine Broughton, an adrenaline-fueled MI6 agent sent to Berlin to retrieve a dossier of spies before it falls into the wrong hands. Set in the anything-goes world of Berlin just weeks before the Wall comes down, the film completely revitalizes the tradition of Cold War espionage with Theron performing, according to The Observer, “the cold-as-ice secret agent shtick backwards, and in red patent-leather stilettos, in the hugely engaging spy-vs-spy thriller.”
Hanna travels the world to find the truth.
Joe Wright’s action epic Hanna cast Saoirse Ronan as a teen assassin raised by her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana) in the wilderness. When a rogue CIA director (Cate Blanchett) tracks them down, Hanna moves from the arctic wild to the Moroccan desert, finally ending up in an abandoned amusement park in East Berlin, all in an effort to discover the truth about her origin. Part international thriller, part fairy tale, the story is all about the title character. “What keeps us hooked is Ronan,” writes New York Magazine. “And the tension she creates between Hanna’s inhumanly agile body and quizzical eyes, which turn cold only when she pulls the trigger.”