Movie Review: Operation Finale
One of the few movies that premiered over the long holiday weekend was the historical drama, Operation Finale. Based on true events, it was directed by Chris Weitz and written by Matthew Orton. Operation Finale follows a group of Mossad agents who work to capture former Nazi leader, Adolf Eichmann. The film stars Oscar Isaac as Mossad agent Peter Malkin and Ben Kingsley as Adolf Eichmann. Some of the supporting cast also includes Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, Joe Alwyn, and Haley Lu Richardson.
After briefly explaining some of the events during the Holocaust and the aftermath for Nazi leaders, the film launches into an event in the 1960’s. Peter Malkin and his team have been tasked with bringing in Nazi leaders who had escaped following the war, and they find someone they believe to be the architect of the final solution, Adolf Eichmann. While the man is a former Nazi, he is not Eichmann as revealed by his children. Before Malkin can stop his team, though, they execute the man. The film then picks up with Eichmann now living in Argentina under an alias. His location becomes known whenever a teenage girl named Sylvia befriends Eichmann’s son, Klaus, at the movie theater. Her father alerts the Israeli government to Eichmann’s whereabouts, which sets into motion a plan to bring Eichmann back to Israel to stand trial for his crimes against the Jewish people.
So, as a huge history buff, this is a movie that I have been anticipating since the first trailer was released. Operation Finale is not the typical fast-moving summer fare; in fact, it is quite slow moving at times. I feel it was somewhat marketed as a thriller, but you should be aware that there are very few thrilling moments; it was a well established drama instead. Regardless, I still found myself drawn into this story that I was aware of but not overly familiar with. I also found the score from Alexandre Desplat to be hauntingly beautiful and a credit to the film. The performances were great, but it should come as no surprise that Isaac and Kingsley are the standouts. Kingsley’s performance is chilling as he downplays his involvement in some scenes and then heartlessly treats the Jewish people with great disdain in the next. On that same spectrum, Oscar Isaac’s portrayal of Peter Malkin is heartbreaking at times as he copes with his own loss and attempts to empathize with Eichmann in order to accomplish what they need to accomplish. The two of them add so much weight and emotion to this movie, and the best moments are when the two of them are sharing the screen.
Honestly, the more I reflect on this film, the more I find myself liking it. The real strength of the film comes emotionally as it captures the heartbreak and anger of the Jewish survivors. Not all of them are refugees from European nations, but they all share this immense and overwhelming loss. There is one scene in which this Mossad team discusses how many people they have each lost, and it is excellently executed but heartbreaking to watch. It excels in capturing the actual and emotional aftermath of the Holocaust as well as the anger that fuels them to seek justice for all the lives that were lost. Even the editing style and flashbacks were used to highlight just how many unknowns family and friends were left with about their loved ones who never made it home.
Overall, I would say that Operation Finale will not rank in my top ten list at the end of the year, but I think it is an exceptionally important film. It covers a post-World War II perspective that we often do not see as Americans, and it captures well the dangerous beliefs that the Nazis held and attempted to pass on. It is not a perfect film. It was far too long. Some of the characters needed a little more development, and the pacing could have been improved in certain sections. However, for anyone who loves and appreciates history, I would say that Operation Finale is worth a watch in the theater.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.