What critics think of ‘The Red Sea Diving Resort,’ the Netflix movie starring Chris Evans

The reviews (both good and bad) of the Sudbury native's latest film.

Chris Evans Red Sea Diving Resort
Michael Kenneth Williams and Chris Evans in "The Red Sea Diving Resort." –Netflix / Marcos Cruz

For a movie starring Chris Evans, “The Red Sea Diving Resort” hasn’t been making many waves — at least with critics.

The Netflix movie, about a group of Israeli intelligence agents and Ethiopians who safely smuggled thousands of Ethiopian-Jewish refugees out of Sudan and into Israel in the 1980s, debuted on the streaming platform on Wednesday. But more than 24 hours after its release, review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes had only catalogued 16 critical appraisals of the movie from film scribes.

Such a low number of reviews means that “The Red Sea Diving Resort,” which stars Evans and Michael Kenneth Williams (“The Wire”) in lead roles, does not yet have a critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. Among the 16 reviews counted, however, the movie has earned a notably low 25 percent freshness rating at the time of this article’s publication.

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That said, a single number can’t adequately capture the range of critical response, and many of the reviews coded as “fresh” or “rotten” have a bit more nuance. To help you judge whether to bump the Sudbury native’s latest to the top of your Netflix queue, here’s what some of the top film critics are saying, both good and bad, about “The Red Sea Diving Resort.”

The Good

The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck wrote that having Evans go from playing Captain America to a Mossad agent was an odd choice, but the Sudbury native did a good job, despite being outshone by other characters.

“Evans plays hunky and sincere as effectively here as he does in the MCU, showing off his chiseled physique in many shirtless scenes. But he’s upstaged by several of the supporting players whose characters are more colorful, especially Huisman as the equally ripped Jake and Bennett as the agent equally versed in martial arts and aerobics instruction.”

 

Chris Bumbray, of JoBlo’s Movie Emporium, wrote that Evans was perfectly cast and utilized by director Gideon Raff.

“Chris Evans has definitely found his groove. Is there anyone better at playing square-jawed, morally upstanding heroes than the former Captain America? While ‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’ is a world apart from Marvel, being a fact-based thriller, his character, Ari Levinson, seems tailor-made to his strengths, with the only surface difference between the two is that he’s a little more hirsute in his shirtless scenes.”

The So-So

CNN’s Brian Lowry called the film “earnest but mediocre,” and credited Evans with carrying the best parts of the movie.

“Evans is such a stalwart leading man that he carries the movie for a while, with modest support from Michael Kenneth Williams as his Ethiopian collaborator, Ben Kingsley as his skeptical boss and Greg Kinnear as a CIA agent. The movie also sparks to life, fleetingly, when the agents realize actually running the hotel — including unwitting tourists — might provide them cover, an intriguing and even amusing idea that mostly withers on the vine.”

 

The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Ordoña wrote that the movie was “not bad; it’s just fine.”

“‘Red Sea’ lacks tension. It’s rife with missed opportunities to make us worry about the safety of the spies and the refugees. Small things here and there — filmmaker decisions — make us question the film’s accuracy. Reliance on cliché sabotages the experience — Evans’ Ari Levinson is dedicated to his job, but damn it, why can’t he follow the rules? “This job pays in migraines,” complains his wise-but-caring boss (Ben Kingsley)”

The Ugly

RogerEbert.com’s Brian Tallerico called the movie “dispiritingly forgettable” in his one-star review, and said viewers would be left feeling depressed after watching the cliched film.

“It’s the kind of script that underlines and highlights every character trait and motivation – the dialogue about leaving no one behind would sound hackneyed and forced on a TV movie in the ‘80s much less in what should be a theatrical one 40 years later.”

 

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote that the film took a great real-life story and turned it into a “generic Netflix thriller that emphasizes Israeli heroism over Ethiopian suffering.”

“‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’ is a dull and derivative film that’s too in love with its heroes to bother with its victims. The Talmud says that ‘He who saves one life saves the world entire,’ though when Nivola repeats that here, it just like he’s quoting ‘Schindler’s List.’ These Mossad agents saved thousands of lives, but this movie only leaves you feeling like they managed to save a Club Med.”

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