The Israeli soldier at the center of the documentary "Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story" may ring a bell with many non-Jewish Americans only because of his surname. He was the older brother of Benjamin, the prime minister of Israel. In that country, the two may be equally famous.
In 1976, Yoni led a team of elite commandos on a mission to extract a group of mostly Jewish hostages from a hijacked plane at Uganda's Entebbe Airport. All but a few of the hostages were rescued, but of the 29 men in the Israeli ground unit, only Yoni did not make it out alive.
That turned Yoni into a national hero, the kind that streets and children are named for, and "Follow Me" seems primarily concerned with keeping his name alive. It establishes Yoni as a poet-warrior and patriot, a scholar who abandoned Harvard to serve his country and whose eloquent letters are astir with nationalist pride. (They're read beautifully by Marton Czokas, who played a Mossad agent in last year's "The Debt.") Old photos reveal Yoni's movie-star good looks, while Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and others -- an impressive roster -- recall his abundant charisma.
But "Follow Me" (coproduced by Woodmere-based Stuart Avi Savitsky) never explains why, exactly, Israel embraced this dead soldier so tightly. Presumably, the Palestinian and German hijackers at Entebbe presented a double horror to Israel, and the successful raid sent a clear message that Jews were tiring of victimhood. But these notions are glancingly, if ever, explored.
There's no doubting the good intentions of "Follow Me," which takes its title from some of Yoni's final words. But the movie may resonate deepest with those who already know and love the story, and simply want to hear it again.
PLOT A documentary about the Israeli soldier who led the 1976 hostage-rescue mission at Entebbe. Unrated (adult themes)
BOTTOM LINE A good starting point for unfamiliar viewers, but any larger meanings remain frustratingly unclear.