Operation Thunderbolt

Watch Operation Thunderbolt

  • PG
  • 1977
  • 2 hr 4 min
  • 6.6  (1,014)

Operation Thunderbolt is a gripping, suspenseful film that tells the true story of the daring military operation to rescue Israeli hostages held in Entebbe, Uganda in 1976. Directed by Menahem Golan and released in 1977, the film stars Yehoram Gaon, Gila Almagor, and Assi Dayan as members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) tasked with the dangerous mission.

The film opens with the hijacking of an Air France plane by a group of Palestinian and German terrorists, who demand the release of over 50 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The plane is diverted to Entebbe Airport in Uganda, where the hijackers are greeted by the brutal dictator, Idi Amin, who offers his support to the terrorists.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres are faced with a difficult decision. They must decide whether to negotiate with the terrorists, risking the release of dangerous prisoners, or to launch a military operation to free the hostages.

The latter option is chosen, and a team of elite IDF commandos is assembled to carry out the mission. Led by Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu (played by Gaon), the brother of future Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the team undergoes intense training in preparation for the mission.

The tension builds as the commandos fly into Uganda, facing obstacle after obstacle en route to the airport. When they finally arrive, they must face the heavily armed terrorists and the Ugandan military, all while racing against the clock to rescue the hostages before the terrorists carry out their threat of mass execution.

The film is expertly crafted, with tense action sequences, realistic portrayals of military operations, and a cast of talented actors bringing the characters to life. Gaon delivers a powerful performance as Netanyahu, displaying both bravery and vulnerability in the face of danger. Almagor, as Netanyahu's wife, adds an emotional depth to the story.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is its portrayal of the terrorists. While they are depicted as ruthless and vicious, the film does not shy away from exploring their motivations and beliefs. In particular, the role of the German terrorist, played by Klaus Kinski, provides insight into the ideology driving these extremists.

The film also raises important questions about the use of military force to resolve conflicts. While the IDF's operation is ultimately successful, the film acknowledges the risks and complexities involved in such an undertaking.

Operation Thunderbolt was a critical and commercial success, both in Israel and internationally. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1978 and won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film the same year. It remains a classic of Israeli cinema and a testament to the bravery of the IDF soldiers who participated in the Entebbe rescue mission.

Operation Thunderbolt
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 4 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (1,014)