Arts movie review

‘I beg you, do not fail’

‘Operation Finale’ highlights yet another story of Nazi retribution

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Hanna Regev (Mélanie Laurent), Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac), Rafi Eitan (Nick Kroll), Zvi Aharoni (Michael Aronov), and Moshe Tabor (Greg Hill) discuss plans for Operation Finale.
Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

Operation Finale
Directed by Chris Weitz
Screenplay by Matthew Orton
Starring Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, Michael Aronov
Rated PG-13
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Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) was dealt a hard hand in life. Having grown up Jewish in World War II Germany, he watched his older sister and her three children die before his eyes. Now, he joins a team of Mossad who are chasing a lead on Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), Hitler’s so-called deadliest lieutenant and “architect of the Final Solution.”

In the case of historical blockbuster dramas, it seems Hollywood has not yet run out of ways to incriminate the Nazis during their reign in WWII or thereafter. With Operation Finale, we see the focus shift away from the infamous target of Adolf Hitler to one of his malicious organizers and the waiting game leading up to his capture and eventual trial in Israel.

Overall, the film feels very slow-paced. There are a lot of moments that felt too long, dragging the audience along while the group of Israeli spies planned and calculated their each and every move. And though I would agree with the perspective that the drawn-out-feel is meant to emulate the time it would have actually taken to conduct the operation, the film didn’t immediately captivate or excite like in the case of similar historical dramas (such as Argo or Bridge of Spies).

However, what Operation Finale lacks in pacing, it makes up with a strong cast, relatively interesting characters, and a suspenseful soundtrack.

In particular, I enjoyed watching Oscar Isaac play the role of Peter Malkin. Throughout the film, Malkin struggles with one overarching problem: his want to avenge the death of his family versus his want to bring Eichmann in for trial in the name of justice. Once the former SS officer has been captured, it’s obvious that the death of his older sister haunts him the most, and it drives him to nearly kill Eichmann on a multitude of occasions. Despite this, Malkin manages a level of personal restraint that is quite admirable. At one point, he even goes to the extent of putting the operation at risk by putting aside his differences with Eichmann and trying to talk to him on a human level. In baring a more vulnerable side to the accused, Malkin shows how much he is willing to risk for the sake of the success of the operation.

Regardless, Operation Finale could have been more interesting. It continually builds up to an end that may satisfy the moral conscience but ultimately leaves the feeling that there are still loose ends to tie up.