“Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater and film critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.
When a movie tells you it is “Based on a True Story” that can make it a challenge for the filmmakers to make it suspenseful if everyone already knows how it ends. Well, there is no spoiler alert needed here- this is the story about Israel’s National Intelligence Agency, Mossad, capturing Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann, who had been living under an alias in Argentina.
Oscar Isaac; Variety
In ‘Operation Finale,’ the new film based on this story, Oscar Isaac (known most recently for playing Poe in the ‘Star Wars’ saga) here plays Peter Malkin, tasked as the Israeli Mossad team member who plans the capture and extraction of Eichmann from Argentina.
Ironically, the film glosses over that Eichmann was able to get into Argentina through the help of an Austrian Bishop, a Nazi sympathizer, who was able to secure him a Red Cross humanitarian passport under a pseudonym. And the film also ignores how, after Eichmann’s capture, Argentina- who had housed this Nazi fugitive for a decade- complained to the U.N. that Israel violated their sovereign rights by capturing him on their soil.
Ben Kingsley as Eichmann in WWII; CC2K
Instead, the film focuses on showing Eichmann as a complex individual. As played by the always brilliant Ben Kingsley, we see him as a harsh but caring family man with his wife and children and, ironically, it is a scene in which his son takes his date to an anti-Semitic rally that helps give Eichmann away.
Once Eichmann is captured, the Mossad team is forced to keep him in a safe house for over a week until they are able to sneak him on an airplane to take him to Israel. During that time, Malkin interrogates him, trying to get him to admit his involvement in the planning of the extermination of Jews and, for a while, all Eichmann does is dispassionately say he was a soldier just following orders.
Ben Kingsley as Eichmann in Argentina; Pulsd
He even displays some compassion for the plight of Malkin’s sister- almost seducing Malkin into having sympathy for him- until he suddenly uses that information to attack and goad Malkin, revealing his true colors.
Written by Matthew Orton and directed by Chris Weitz in a straight forward manner with a few flashbacks and daydream sequences, ‘Operation Finale’ is a great story told pretty well. The big suspense scenes take place when the Mossad team captures Eichmann getting off a bus near his home, when their safe house is about to be raided and when there are complications getting Eichmann onto the plane and out of Argentina.
And the story is compelling, it just doesn’t move as well as it could on screen in some places. But don’t let that stop you from going as it is fascinating and thought-provoking.
l to r: Melanie Laurent, Oscar Isaac, Nick Kroll; IndieWire
Isaac is good as the eager Malkin and there are several talented supporting actors of note here, too: Lior Raz, Melanie Laurent and Nick Kroll, as Mossad team members, as well as Peter Strauss and Haley Lu Richardson as the father and daughter who help lead the Mossad to Eichmann.
But the star here is clearly Ben Kingsley and his stunning portrayal of Eichmann, which is likely to earn him his fifth Academy Award nomination. Overall, this is a good, solid historical drama and I give ‘Operation Finale’ 3-1/2 stars out of 5.
Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com, where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews. This is Ed Katz talking movies for WICC 600!”