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It feels like an eternity since I last went to the theater but yesterday I finally managed to go see Operation Finale, a dramatized account of how Mossad agents captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960. The film is partially sourced from Eichmann in My Hands, a memoir by Peter Malkin (played by Oscar Isaac in the film) and primarily takes place in 1960 (with a prologue in 1954 and an epilogue in 1961).
First let me say, if you come into this film expecting a lot of action (fighting, shootouts, etc.) then you are going to be disappointed. While there is an air of tension throughout the story (especially in the latter half of the film when the agents are trying to smuggle Eichmann out of Argentina), it doesn’t really express itself with direct violence.
Oscar Isaac does a passable job as Mossad agent Peter Malkin though I’m not entirely satisfied with his performance. In my opinion Isaac makes too many wisecracks throughout the film and they feel out of character. However, I have no complaints for the scenes Isaac shares with Ben Kingsley, they are some of the best moments in the film. And speaking of Kingsley…
Ben Kingsley as Adolf Eichmann is by far the best part of Operation Finale (as I suspected he would be). Eichmann (as Kingsley portrays him), is a man who has thoroughly convinced himself of how things ‘actually’ happened during the Nazi regime. He worked at a desk, nothing more. The truth, however, is revealed by what we see. Even as Eichmann peddles this falsehood, we the audience see him traveling into the woods to oversee hundreds of Jews being murdered in a ditch. And despite his age, Eichmann remains very dangerous, as seen in a moment when he stops his son Klaus (Joe Alwyn) from manhandling Sylvia (Haley Lu Richardson), a girl he’d met a movie theater. In one swift motion he goes from being an affable father to an angry figure that has no trouble pinning Klaus against the wall.
Before the credits start, the audience is shown footage from Eichmann’s actual trial in Israel (including footage of the man himself) and explains how the trial helped to share eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust with a global audience, concluding with a note that the real Peter Malkin died in 2005.
I enjoyed Alexandre Desplat’s score for this film, it wasn’t too overbearing and it helped to keep the tension in the story going.
Anyone who really loves WWII history should enjoy Operation Finale, but casual fans might not enjoy it so much as the film does take a while to really get going.
What did you think of Operation Finale? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!
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