Another Nazi War Criminal Goes Down In “Operation Finale”

“Operation Finale” stars Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley, and depicts the capture of Adolf Eichmann, a former high ranking SS Officer who had helped organize the Holocaust during World War II. It is directed by Chris Weitz and written by Matthew Orton.

Isaac portrays Peter Malkin, one of a team of Mossad agents from Israel who extracted Eichmann, played by the undoubtedly talented Ben Kingsley, from Argentina in 1960.

This was a piece of history I knew little about, so I was glad to have caught it.  The movie drags a bit at times, but the performances are solid enough. Kingsley brings a lot of depth to his portrayal of Eichmann. Although it is absurd to sympathize with a Nazi, it was interesting to hear Eichmann’s perspective on why he participated in the atrocities of that time.  Kingsley’s acting abilities have not faltered with age and his performance is here is solid evidence of that.

The other cast members such as Melanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, and Haley Lu Richardson are solid enough in their roles.

I am not sure how many artistic liberties were taken, but this was by and large and pretty convincing account, although there are some narrow escapes that leave me wondering as to their historical accuracy.

I did enjoy the effort to make the Mossad team relatable and at times very likeable. I tend to envision Mossad agents as being rather stoic and mysterious.  Since many of the roles are indeed real people, it should not be surprising that they would have a bit more depth than those in a work of fiction. Somehow, I was surprised and impressed that like most people, they did have weaknesses and fears that had to be overcome to accomplish their assignment.  Well, not so much surprised that the real people involved were flawed, but pleased at how they were presented in the writing and performances.  The movie also does a pretty decent job of emphasizing the importance of Eichmann’s capture to the Israelis and reminding the audience of the indescribable heartache of those who lived through the Holocaust and lost so much.  I imagine no movie could capture the full scope of such an event, but this film certainly makes a pretty good attempt at it.

One minor distraction was that the efforts to make Kingsley appear younger in some flashback scenes didn’t look that convincing. One the other hand, the flashback scenes were somewhat important.  The practice of de-aging actors in Hollywood still seems to be an imprecise art at best.

The major expectations of the movie seem to have been met and at times exceeded. I think most history aficionados and plenty of regular movie watchers, such as yours truly will appreciate this latest offering from MGM.



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