Directed by: Chris Weitz
Written by: Matthew Orton
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Oscar Isaac, Nick Kroll, Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent and Peter Strauss
Run Time: 2h 2min
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
3 1/2 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
‘Operation Finale’ is the true story of an operation that gave the people of Israel peace from something terrible they had suffered through. Interestingly enough, this film couldn’t be coming out at a more perfect time in the history of our own country. I’m not suggesting that we can compare our situation in the slightest but our national discord and division, at the moment, is felt in a few moments of ‘Operation Finale,’ especially when you realize how easy it is to influence others and turn a country completely around.
Writer Matthew Orton used as his subject matter the fascinating account of when Israel gets a chance for the first time ever to try, in open court, one of the evilest men ever to walk the earth. ‘For the first time, we’ll judge our executioner.’ Other Nazi’s, most famously Hitler, who were responsible for the atrocities of World War II, killed themselves before they could be captured but Adolph Eichmann (Kingsley), the architect of the ‘Final Solution,’ (the Nazis plan to annihilate the Jewish people), got away and lived a full life. By 1960 he had faded into the past and was forgotten by most of the world but not by Israel. They wanted them all to pay for what they had done.
Many of Hitler’s top officers fled to Argentina which is where our story starts. Eichmann’s son Klaus (Joe Alwyn), unbeknownst to him, begins dating a Jewish girl, Sylvia (Haley Lu Richardson) whose family is hiding as German immigrants. He brings her to a Nazi rally and terrified at what she sees, she abruptly leaves. She passes what she witnessed along to her father, Lothar Hermann (Strauss), who then passes word to Isser Harel (Raz) whose skeptical at first but when given photographic proof, immediately pulls together a team to try and pick up Eichmann. Argentina will never give him up so capturing him alive isn’t the safest or smartest way to go but it would mean so much to bring him in alive and make him pay, once and for all, for what he had done. Can they pull this off? They have a simple plan that becomes quite complicated, which is what works to give the audience moments of tension, otherwise, you’re watching the story play out very heavy on the drama with little action. They capture Eichmann, not in a graceful way, but they do succeed and they hold him in a safe house until their plane is ready to go. Nervous already, as there are many sympathizers looking for them not to mention they’ll be in prison themselves if discovered, they learn not only has the plane been delayed but that the airline that agreed to help the mission gets wind of its true purpose and doesn’t want any part of it. Before they’ll agree to let them board, they insist Eichmann give them a signed letter stating that he is going willingly to stand trial.
Israeli operative Peter Malkin (Isaac), after losing a sister and her family to the Nazi’s, takes it upon himself to be the one to do whatever it takes, even to befriend the beast, to get the signature. Instructed not to speak to Eichmann because he, ‘convinced Rabbis to fill the trains himself.’ The leader of the team will try but warns there’s no getting through to someone who has little humanity. Malkin gives it his best. This is when Kingsley goes from one spectrum to the other, appealing to his captors’ good senses and eventually using them against him. Isaac and Kingsley have wonderful chemistry and their scenes alone makes the film worth a watch.
A drama such as this can be somewhat slow but ‘Operation Finale’ keeps you engrossed with not only good dialogue, the issue and the acting but the assignment itself. They show enough of what the Jewish people truly went through, something the world at the time didn’t believe was happening, that at the end, learning of Eichmann’s fate, it made you want to stand up and applaud the team that made it all come together. Hearing Eichmann say, ‘You and your lying press will just try who you think I am.’ Was a bit too close to home but hopefully, people do learn from history and no other country will allow something like this to ever happen again. See the film. It’s powerful and it’s also important that you do.