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Critic Consensus: Operation Finale is well-intentioned, well-acted, and overall entertaining, even if the depth and complexity of the real-life events depicted can get a little lost in their dramatization.
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as Peter Malkin
as Adolf Eichmann
as Isser Harel
as Klaus Eichmann
as Sylvia Hermann
as Zvi Aharoni
as Ephraim Ilani
as Yaakov Gat
as Carlos Fuldner
as Moshe Tabor
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Critic Reviews for Operation Finale
Ben Kingsley's serene, "everybody sh*ts" reading of the character is a source of illumination around which everything else in the picture revolves.
The markings here are of a fiery potboiler, but "Operation Finale" never ignites.
It's in the movie's lengthy middle sequence of verbal sparring between Malkin and Eichmann that Operation Finale comes into its own.
The pacing is off from the first scenes, thick with exposition but skimpy on clarity.
A compelling if somewhat low-key historical thriller, elevated by fine performances from Kingsley and Isaac.
Audience Reviews for Operation Finale
GOLDEN AGED CHEESE - My Review of OPERATION FINALE (2 1/2 Stars) Hollywood Golden Age porn is real y'all and it lives on in such films as ALLIED, ATONEMENT, THE BLACK DHALIA and now OPERATION FINALE, Chris Weitz's first feature directing gig since the wonderful A BETTER LIFE from 2011 and written by Matthew Orton. Set in the early 1960s and telling the true story of how the Israeli Mossad attempted to kidnap and bring to justice, the architect of Hitler's final solution, Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), who after World War II had assumed another identity and escaped to Buenos Aires. This film has everything going for it - a suspenseful story, the great Ben Kingsley in another thoroughly compelling role, and high stakes considering the millions of lives lost because men like Eichmann had the ability to dehumanize people. It even has relevancy on its side considering our current President uses words like "infest" to describe immigrants. The filmmakers, however, choose to present this story in an old Hollywood sheen, depriving it of the grit and soul so clearly at its center. Oscar Isaac, in bland movie star mode here, plays Peter Malkin, who in the epilogue, bungles a mission to capture Eichmann. If only he could get out of his own cocky way! Maybe next time! That next time comes soon enough when reports filter down to the Mossad that Eichmann is alive and well in Argentina. Haley Lu Richardson (SUPPORT THE GIRLS, THE BRONZE) plays Sylvia Hermann, a Jewish girl who just happens to meet cute with Eichmann's son Klaus (Joe Alwyn) as she shushes him in a movie theater. Their dating leads to two meet-the-parents scenes, one with her blind father Lothar (Peter Strauss of RICH MAN, POOR MAN - Jesus! Where have you been?!!) and another with Eichmann and his wife Vera (Greta Scacchi! Between this and THE TERROR, it's great to have you back!). Lothar figures out who Klaus' father is, sending his poor daughter into a life-threatening trap to confirm his identity. I wanted more of these characters, but, unfortunately, the film discards them too soon. The whole time I kept wondering if the Fascists were going to kill poor Sylvia, but the movie didn't seem to care as much, only dropping in on her briefly towards the end. It's a waste of the talented Richardson and an early sign that the storytelling drops the ball on some key plot points. Still, the setup plays well, considering the analog style in which everything had to be done in this age before the internet and GPS could have solved a lot of problems. Rather than going to Argentina and killing him, the Mossad, led here by the hypnotically powerful actor, Lior Raz, decide that it's best to bring Eichmann back to Israel where he will suffer through a televised trial in front of the entire world. It was a wise plan but difficult to execute, considering the Fascist elements alive and well in Buenos Aires and the many ways things could go so wrong. Malkin has a short time to assemble a team, which includes his ex-girlfriend Hanna (Mélanie Laurent ), a physician who has the tough task of sedating Eichmann just enough so that they can make him look drunk as they escort him onto an El Al plane back to Jerusalem. Once they doctor up their passports and take many different routes to cross the ocean in one of those tired old school "let's trace a map" montages, the group of spies manage to get Eichmann to a safe house where they have to wait a long time for a plane to take them back home. One key element involves Eichmann having to sign a paper allowing such extradition. It's no easy feat to make someone sign their own death warrant, and this section of the film works the best. It's showdown time between Malkin and Eichmann and at least Kingsley brings something menacing and original to these Hannibal Lecter/Clarice Starling Quid Pro Quo moments. Kingsley captures the "banality of evil" so well, particularly in scenes where Isaac spoon feeds him, allows him to go to the bathroom, or when he shaves him with a straight razor. A master manipulator, Kingsley nails the casual push-pull of these scenes, simultaneously showing us the monster and the man. It's too bad Isaac didn't get the same memo. Despite his character's tortured past concerning the Holocaust death of his own sister, Isaac tends to know where all of his key lights are as he consistently finds the right angle to display his handsome face. He's a great actor, so I'm blaming this on a director and writer who wanted to make their own CASABLANCA instead of committing to a wonderful story all its own. This is a great cast with great confident work by Laurent as well as memorable appearances by Michael Aronov (so great on THE AMERICANS), Ohad Knoller (YOSSI & JAGGER), Nick Kroll, who brings comic relief while still managing to take his part seriously, and Greg Hill, a Mossad agent who would rather end Eichmann's life rather than go through with the plan. OPERATION FINALE, which also suffers from a way too melodramatic score by the usually great Alexandre Desplat, feels like the bastard step-child from an orgy participated in by MUNICH, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, MARATHON MAN, and ARGO. One can't help but conclude the 11th hour airport sequence played a little fast and loose with the facts and ARGO'd it up a little. Still, I didn't know this story, and it's an important one. The sister storyline goes for something poetic and emotional at the end, reminding me of the great last shot to THE LOST CITY OF Z, and in this current age of instant public humiliation on social media, it's fascinating to identify with an entire country who wanted Eichmann to pay for the sins of many. Despite the fact that the film humanizes him to a degree, it's still clear the man deserved everything that was coming to him. We have many brave people to thank for their attempts and OPERATION FINALE deserves to be seen for that reason alone.
Looking for another historical drama that makes you go "meh"? Darkest Hour and The Post have successfully passed the torch to Operation Finale. If you were to ask me who would be my first pick to direct a film about the post-WWII hunt for Adolph Eichmann by Mossad, I would immediately go with Chris Weitz, the guy who directed The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Well nobody asked me, and I still got what I wanted. Believe it or not, it's not as bad as one would expect with him at the helm, but I'll be baffled if it comes up during awards season. What am I saying? Even All the Money in the World got an Oscar nomination for a pinch-hitter supporting role. Oscar Isaac has recently been trying to crawl his way back out of several cinematic universes. What better way for him to spend all that cash he got robbing man-children by exploiting their nostalgia than by co-producing this small scale drama while playing lead actor and proudly wearing his heritage on his proverbial sleeve? That might be a poor choice of words in this context. I think the ulterior motive was so that he could pilfer most of the one-liners, quips, and zingers from his more often than not comedic actor co-star, Nick Kroll. They must have had a hell of a time making this thing because for as somber toned as one would conceive the story of apprehending the "Architect of the Final Solution" being, this thing is about on par with a Joss Whedon movie. That would explain why the tone fluctuates haphazardly and why there's hardly a woman that's anything more than a plot aid in sight. Of course there's the superfluous romance subplot between Isaac and Melanie Laurent. Her reputation for hunting Nazis precedes her, but here she's more of a back seat babe amongst the ragtag Israeli spy crew. God forbid they stick to the espionage or the audience might get bored! Ben Kingsley gives a strong performance (as always) as the infamous Eichmann, and for the majority of the run time they do their best to make him seem like a reasonable, even sympathetic character. But we all know Nazis are ravenous ideologues, and their dastardly nature amps up scenes that initially seem more tedious than tense. It's interesting in a way that it would make a high school social studies class period whiz by, bar the one obligatory PG-13 F-bomb.
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