Arts Film

“Operation Finale” is a Historical Thriller

AJT's Jen Evans presents her thoughts about the new movie directed by Chris Weitz.

A movie still captures the tension and complex dynamic between captor Malkin (Issac) and captive Eichmann (Kingsley).

The true story “Operation Finale” details the Israeli abduction of Nazi Adolph Eichmann from Argentina in 1960. Directed by Chris Weitz (“The Golden Compass,” and the “Twilight” series), the film focuses primarily on the agents who seized Eichmann.

“Operation Finale” opens with the unorthodox rebel Israeli agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) and the Mossad grabbing a man from his home and shooting him in his yard in 1954, only to discover that it is the wrong Nazi they’re looking for … the Nazi they’re after has been spotted in Argentina. The intensity of this scene prefaces the tempo of the story.

The film details the mission to capture Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), the “Architect of the Final Solution.” He was the mastermind that brought millions of innocent Jews to their deaths in concentration camps.

Eichmann had been reported dead after WWII and Nazi Germany’s collapse, but he escaped to Buenos Aires where he was living under an assumed identity with his wife and two sons. Argentina in the late 50s was crawling with Nazi sympathizers, which made it easier for Eichmann to blend in. He led his life there working at a Mercedes-Benz plant and habitually taking the same bus home from work every day, as a normal Argentinian would do, which ultimately led to his demise.

Fifteen years after the end of World War II, Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad and security agency Shin Bet plot the secret capture of Eichmann after they receive credible information and photographic evidence of his whereabouts in Argentina. They come by this information from a young woman named Sylvia Hermann (Haley Lu Richardson) who is dating a young Nazi, Klaus (Joe Alwyn). Sylvia, who was raised Catholic, finds out she is Jewish from her father, Lothar (Peter Strauss), and that Klaus’ father is Eichmann. Knowing this, she is sent to confirm Eichmann’s identity.

The news of Eichmann’s whereabouts reaches Israel, and Malkin and the team are put on the mission to secretly transport him to Israel to stand trial for his unthinkable crimes. There he would be publicly tried in the global reckoning of the Holocaust.

The film goes through the intricate planning of Eichmann’s abduction and, when the time comes, the capture goes off without a hitch. A very powerful scene, flawless and well-orchestrated, this is the best scene in the film by far.
From there we see the array of characters battle with themselves and each other on how to proceed with keeping Eichmann in hiding. Complications arise with their escape back to Israel from their makeshift safe house. All members of the team feel unsettled by the fact that they are in such close quarters with a man who had taken part in the murders of their families.

Melanie Laurent stars in “Operation Finale” as Dr. Hanna Eilan.

Part of the team is Dr. Hanna Elian (Mélanie Laurent) who is there to sedate Eichmann when the time comes to transport him to Israel. She is also the ex-girlfriend of Malkin, which provides flirtatious glances and male-female banter that lightens the mood of the film.

While in captivity, the cat-and-mouse game between Malkin and Eichmann becomes complex, as each were master manipulators. Malkin tries to get Eichmann to sign papers indicating that he is willing to go to trial in Jerusalem. Here we see the powerful acting and chemistry between Kingsley and Isaac. However, these exchanges are cut too short in the film, which is unfortunate because this was the heart of this drama.

Although there is very little time spent on the trial and the aftermath of the characters, Weitz does give this film the respect the story deserves. “Operation Finale” is a good movie but is more geared for Netflix or The History Channel.

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