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‘Operation Finale’ (review)

Produced by Fred Berger, Oscar Isaac,
Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Jason Spire
Written by Matthew Orton
Directed by Chris Weitz
Starring Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley,
Mélanie Laurent, Lior Raz,
Nick Kroll, Haley Lu Richardson

 

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

– George Santayana

 

Operation Finale is a captivating hybrid between a modern caper/spy film in the vain of Catch Me if You Can crossed with Schindler’s List. It has the ticking clock Will-They-Be-Able-To-Pull-It-Off element interwoven with quiet, but incredibly engrossing scenes between Mossad Agent Miller and the infamous Nazi, Adolph Eichmann.

Based on the true story of the extraction of Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) from Buenos Aires, Operation Finale follows the Israeli intelligence team lead by Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) as they uncover the entrenched Nazi who is surrounded by dangerously sympathetic compatriots.

All of the cast deliver solid performances, but it is mesmerizing to watch Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac work together. Their dynamic eclipses some of the unevenness in the story telling. Kingsley has proven his master on more than one occasion, his portrayal of Eichmann as a self-described Nazi scapegoat seems deceivingly seems effortless. A lesser actor would seem wooden playing against Kingsley, but Isaac holds his own. His ability to express so much with so little dialog is gut-wrenching.

Even though the relationships between the Miller and the rest of the team are thoroughly fleshed out, the love interest angle between Miller and the team’s medical expert, Hanna (Mélanie Laurent) whether true to life or not, feels tacked on for a Hollywood formula’s sake.

It is always a good sign for me when I am worried for the success of the characters even when I know the historical outcome. The film keeps a good balance of suspense and danger up until the last 15 minutes of the film. Then it feels as if they filmmakers ran out of time and were forced to do a quick wrap up using a check list of historical movie troupes. While not detrimental to the movie, it feels a let down after such visceral performances and careful film-craft.

While not perfect, Operation Finale is as well made a movie as any Blockbuster, and it serves an additional vital purpose.

I believe it a necessity to have films like Operation Finale. They keep horrendous events like the Holocaust fresh in current society’s memory, and forces the audience to draw parallels with today events.

While some may argue that by sensationalizing the story, its importance is cheapened. I would argue that bringing the story to a wider audience presents the opportunity that some viewers may delve deeper into the issue, but the spark would not have been lit if not for the Hollywood introduction.

 

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