Movie Reviews

Operation Finale – A Captivating Post-War Period Drama

A stacked cast in a Nazi hunter movie equals success!!

Synopsis: Fifteen years after the end of World War II, Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad and security agency Shin Bet – led by the tireless and heroic agent Peter Malkin – launched a daring top-secret raid to capture the notorious Eichmann, who had been reported dead in the chaos following Nazi Germany’s collapse but was, in fact, living and working in a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina under an assumed identity along with his wife and two sons. Monitoring his daily routine, Malkin and his operatives plot and execute the abduction under the cover of darkness just a few feet from Eichmann’s home. Determined to sneak him out of Argentina to stand trial in Israel, Malkin and Eichmann engage in an intense and gripping game of cat-and-mouse. (Netflix)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, and Mélanie Laurent

Writer: Matthew Orton

Director: Chris Weitz

Rating: PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 122mins

Trailer: 

Operation Finale is a period drama centered on the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann (Kingsley) by Israeli agents in Argentina during the 1960s, and it sure makes for an engrossing watch. The talent in front of the camera is a wonderful ensemble, every performance calculated and subtle. Kingsley and Oscar Isaac played off each other so well in what made for didactic, personal scenes rich in emotion. Eichmann was coined “The Architect of the Final Solution,” and the film portrays him as a family-orientated man who envisioned his country at the top of the totem pole. Weitz shifts from interrogation scenes to flashbacks to surreal visions in a fluid manner, creating a well-paced drama that doesn’t wear out its runtime.

Isaac as spy-agent Peter Malkin was fascinating to watch. His instincts are personally driven – his sister and her children were a few of the 6 million killed during the Holocaust – providing a compelling backstory that seeps through the screen. There’s a strange subplot involving Malkin and Dr. Hanna (Laurent) that seemed to craft them as possible romantic interests, however the execution was muddled and though what the filmmakers were trying to achieve was understandable, its effect was left unfulfilled. Another subplot that appears and disappears just as quick is Haley Lu Richardson as Sylvia Hermann. She’s the catalyst of the plot and appears as an integral component to catching Eichmann, then she disappears from the rest of the film for no given reason. Every movie could use more Haley Lu Richardson! The climax of the film is a very Argo-esque situation but couldn’t hold the same amount of tension that Affleck created. These are minor flaws in an otherwise solid period drama.

The film was also surprisingly suspenseful. The scene involving Eichmann’s literal capture keeps you on the edge of your seat. The film picked up all its momentum here and the fact that it was able to sustain this tension until the credits rolled – the climax excluded was delightful to watch. As previously mentioned, the scenes involving Isaac and Kingsley were terrific. Their interactions acting out as a psychological war between the two. The two grow and attempt to understand each other – Malkin understanding Eichmann’s love for his country and the orders he carried out (obviously not an excuse) and Eichmann understanding Malkin’s inner tragedy and the burden it has placed on his life.

Overall, Operation Finale is an engrossing period drama containing captivating performances, a tense story and a few subplots left dangling. It’s on Netflix now, so if you have a few hours to kill and/or are a World War II history buff, it is well worth the watch.

Score: 7/10

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