Directed by Chris Weitz
Operation Finale is a great fact-based drama about the mission to capture Adolph Eichmann from Argentina and bring him to justice in Israel. The bulk of the film concerns the operation. It focuses on the planning and the execution with the remainder of that being how the assorted members of the team handle his presence.
The cast is strong. Oscar Isaac is great as the character of Peter Malkin. He carries a great deal of anger and perhaps a bit of survivor’s guilt for having lived through World War II while his sister died at the hands of Nazi soldiers. Since then he has been caring for his grief-stricken mother.
Ben Kingsley however steals the show as he often does in every scene he’s in as Adolph Eichmann. He is so evil. But it’s not an over the top evil. He’s just sinister and slimy and manipulative. He captures the “banality of evil” of the man very well here. My main issue is the coloring of the hair comes off as unnatural. It can take you out of the moment at times and it’s only worse in the snippets of flashback that they show. In those he doesn’t look younger. Rather he looks like an old man trying to hide his age.
About midpoint in the film there is a great deal of interaction between Peter Malkin and Eichmann. At this point everything relies on the strength of the actors and it pays off. Malkin has pegged Eichmann for what he is: an egotistical manipulator who needs reward in order to sign a document needed by the Israeli airline for them to be OK with shipping Eichmann back to Israel.
Malkin knows that this manipulator will twist words and then thoughts and get people to see his lies as truth. He knows Eichmann will spot a trick coming a mile away and thus begins a system of rewarding him as a means of getting his trust and then his willingness to sign the paper.
The rest of the group finds out what he’s doing and this causes problems but Malkin is allowed to proceed and it eventually works. Malkin is able to appeal to Eichmann‘s ego. He manipulates the manipulator.
I love how Isaac and Kingsley play off of each other as Malkin and Eichmann. It is some truly great acting and a highpoint in the film. You can watch as Eichmann is slowly worn down and convinced by Malkin that going to Israel is the only way to get his story out there and to tell the world the “truth”-at least the lie that Eichmann has convinced himself of and he wishes to convince the world of.
The story is solid. How closely it follows the facts I don’t know. If you’re looking for a Hollywood fact-based movie to adhere to all the facts and not play with things, then you’ll always be disappointed. You’re here to be entertained by a well-done drama.
The music is reminiscent of the music from thrillers of the 60s or 70s. It’s got the same beats and that same general vibe. I love those movies and along with the graphics this film evokes those classic films.
The directing is solid. The director manages to build the tension and they even plant the seeds of the climax early in the movie without you quite realizing it. It’s one sentence uttered by one minor character and that minor character is what nearly destroys everything. Blink and you’ll miss it. I like when movies do that. I don’t like to be hit over the head with important moments.
I’m not sure how much of this movie contains special effects. Usually some must be used in historical drama to re-create the times. And most of the movie takes place in 1960s Argentina but I can’t tell if they’ve done anything other than the airplane at the airport. That’s the only bit of special effects that stand out. If anything else was done I can’t tell and I like that. You shouldn’t be able to see special effects.
I enjoyed this movie. I was impressed from the first few minutes all the way to the very end. It’s tense and it’s traumatic and emotional. You will enjoy this. It’s a must watch.