In case you were wondering, yes, Chris Evans’ notoriously bad picker is still at work, cursing his non-Marvel repertoire with mediocrity (goddess protect Knives Out from the Chris Evans Curse). His latest, The Red Sea Diving Resort, is on Netflix now and it is a study in bland, formulaic filmmaking. Resort tells the true story of Operation Brothers, in which a team of Mossad agents smuggled thousands of Ethiopian Jews threatened by ethnic cleansing and the onset of civil war out of Africa by fronting a sea resort in Sudan. Evans stars as Ari, the leader of the Mossad team, a man so driven by his work that he basically abandons his family. The movie never addresses this conflict or offers any kind of perspective on being torn between family and duty. Indeed, Ari abandoning his family is treated as a mere quirk, like how the assassin on the team enjoys sandwiches. Abandoning your family/enjoying sandwiches, same difference. Resort does, however, have an opinion on Chris Evans being shirtless, and that is: Chris Evans being shirtless is good. Chris Evans is VERY shirtless in this movie. Here he is being a little bit shirtless:
Over the course of nine years, Evans starred in eleventy jillion Marvel movies and he only took his shirt off once. ONCE. And yet he shows up for this piece of sh-t movie and gets fully naked. This is why he is not Best Chris, his naked priorities are backwards. Chris Pine knew getting naked in Wonder Woman was the thing to do. Chris Evans wouldn’t even take his shirt off for America. WORST CHRIS OF THE WEEK. Here is Chris Evans with his shirt off, trying to get back in our good graces:
The Red Sea Diving Resort is not a good movie. The subject is interesting, but the way it’s presented here is boring—even the “assembling the team” sequence is boring. That’s always the best part! Heist movies live and die by their “assembling the team” sequences (and this is essentially a heist movie, with refugees as the thing being heisted). That’s the part of the movie that sets the tone for the Dangerous Thing they’re doing. Red Sea Diving Resort sets a tone in the range of “hitting snooze for the third time”. However, the “assembling the team” sequence does feature buck-ass naked Michiel Huisman, so there’s that.
I realize Resort is based on a true story, and the Mossad agents who risked their lives to save refugees are heroic. But there is no getting around the white savior complex of this movie. There were also brave Ethiopians taking great risks to help their people, represented here by Kabede (Michael K. Williams). Resort just as easily could have centered the story on Kabede, but it doesn’t. Instead it’s about brave and reckless Ari who abandons his family. Here is shirtless Chris Evans pointing away from this movie’s white savior complex:
It is kind of amazing this movie is so flat, because the cast is full of wildly charismatic people. Besides Evans, Williams, and Huisman, there is Hayley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Ben Kingsley, Greg Kinnear, and Chris Chalk. None of them have any chemistry, though, despite Huisman, Kinner, and Chalk emitting about a kilowatt each of charisma. A lot of this falls on Evans. He’s not loose enough. The stakes are high, yes, but he is so solidly in Captain America mode (Resort was filmed shortly before Avengers: Infinity War), so Ari ends up feeling like a knock-off character. Huisman operates on the right frequency, loose and reflexive, believably changeable depending on the circumstances. He comes across like a proper spy. But it’s not Huisman’s movie to carry, which means his effort is mostly wasted. Not wasted: Chris Evans’ chest hair.
The Red Sea Diving Resort is clearly trying to be another Argo, right down to its Boston Bro lead and dramatic, climactic plane escape. It does not succeed in replicating any of the good parts of Argo—the solid cast chemistry, sustained tension, overall stylishness—but it does get all of the bad parts: hammy Hollywood contrivances, one-dimensional characters, which is like tripping over the lowest hurdle. If it wasn’t for three seconds in which Chris Evans gets naked, this movie would be totally forgettable. As it is, at least everyone will remember those three seconds. Behold the most important scene in The Red Sea Diving Resort: