Thursday, November 15, 2018

Operation Finale: The True Tale of Trials and Tribulations

REEL REVIEWS

“Operation Finale” takes place in 1960 as Mossad agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) is assigned a team and sent to Argentina. Their mission is to locate and apprehend Adolph Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), the Architect of the Final Solution. Locating and capturing the former Nazi proves to be an arduous task in and of itself, but the stakes are soon raised when Peter and his team are ordered to coerce Eichmann into signing a document that states he will willingly stand trial in Israel for his crimes.

Tempers fly and tensions rise as the team tries to break Eichmann’s will, without having to physically break him. But when your alone, and face to face with the man who’s one terrible idea lead to the deaths of thousands, if not millions, of people, including your friends and family, restraint is a difficult virtue to keep. The film also stars: Mélanie Laurent, Lior Raz, and Nick Kroll.

“Operation Finale” is a grim but absorbing thriller. This is not a story about action, revenge, hope, love, or redemption. This is just a true story that needs to be told, about a team of Mossad agents tasked with apprehending a Nazi bureaucrat, so he can stand trial for his crimes against humanity. While the movie makes one or two embellishments here or there, the overall narrative sticks to the true story.

Both Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley deserve praise for their performances in this movie. Oscar Isaac perfectly blends into the role of Peter Malkin, and what I loved most about how his character was handled was that the movie never tried to make him into an action hero. Instead, they made him a realistic and human agent out to complete a mission. As for Ben Kingsley, what some may find interesting is this is not the first time the actor has starred in a film involving Nazis and WWII. Back in 1989, Kingsley assumed the role of the famous Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in “Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story,” and a few years later he went on to play Itzhak Stern in “Schindler’s List.”

Now, Kingsley has been given the role of one of the most notorious Nazis in documented history. Except he not only has the challenge of trying to bring Adolph Eichmann to life, but also trying to make him appear human. It’s hard to remember that the Nazis, through all of their atrocities, were still human. For an actor, trying to assume the role of one is hard enough, but trying to humanize one is another challenge almost no one wants to undertake. Yet Kingsley does it in a subtle way. I won’t say when it happens, due to spoilers, but there’s a brief point in the movie where you forget you’re hearing Adolph Eichmann the Nazi speak, and just Adolph Eichmann the man. Granted, by the end you still want him to pay for his crimes, but I admire the filmmakers, and Ben Kingsley, for going down this path.

Some critics are calling this movie a “Nazi Gets His Comeuppance” type of film. They’re free to think what they want, but I, however, see “Operation Finale” as two things. For one, I see it as a representation of no matter what side you’re on, we’re all human—some are just more deplorable than others. And two, I see it as a display of the power and danger of an idea. The horrific event that sparked the beginning of the Final Solution was articulated by one man with one idea. Years later, the Mossad had one idea: to capture the architect and bring him to trial. No matter how big or how small, one idea can change history. Often for the worse, but sometimes for the better.

“Operation Finale” is rated PG-13 for some language along with disturbing thematic content and related violent images. If you are looking for a grim retelling of one of history’s greatest plots to apprehend a former Nazi, then “Operation Finale” will deliver. Just don’t go into this expecting to feel cathartic by the end. Anyone who’s aware of the true story already knows how it will end, and knows that it won’t patch the wound left behind after the Holocaust. And while I have little faith this film will be nominated for any substantial awards, Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley’s performances are ones I won’t soon forget. Which is why the final score for “Operation Finale” is a 7.5 out 10.

Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.

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