Historic movies are a hard medium to perfect. With the serious subject matter, the need to be sensitive to those who may have lived through it and to also get across just how momentous this event was, takes a lot of doing. Netflix has recently brought out Operation Finale – movie based on the apprehension of Adolf Eichmann. But did this movie do this event justice?
Operation Finale follows Peter (Oscar Isaac) and a group of Israeli secret agents as they travel to Argentina to capture Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), the mastermind behind the Nazi’s Final Solution.
This movie has the opportunity to be unbelievably moving; after all, the people who want to arrest Eichmann are a group of Jews, some of which were confined to those concentration camps. It is a story of true justice, and of true determination.
Well, it would be, if the movie wasn’t quite so embellished. To someone not familiar with the happenings of Eichmann’s capture, this film is genuinely really good. It outlines the main events really well, and does explain just how important this was to so many people.
However, to those who are familiar, this story is dressed up to the nines. For such a sensitive subject matter, it’s upsetting to think that a movie would be made about it, even if it wasn’t meant to be. As far as a movie goes, this one is good. It’s entertaining, it’s got wonderful acting, and it’s very well made. It’s just hard to get past the fact that a lot of the stuff in this movie didn’t actually happen.
Instead of focussing on the atrocities that Eichmann committed, director Chris Weitz decided to throw in an unnecessary love story and add random scenes to create ‘tension’ – these didn’t even come to fruition and, instead, make the movie seem gimmicky and cliché.
These subplots seem kind of disrespectful, to a story that is genuinely heartbreaking and part of so many people’s history. It’s unfair on the people who lived through it and it’s unfair on those who were actually a part of it, to tell the story any other way except completely truthfully.
The angle of this film was obvious – it could have discussed just how much of a madman Eichmann actually was. Instead, it just decided to make things up.
Saying that, this movie has its good parts. The acting, as a whole, is brilliant. Oscar Isaac wears arrogance well, and takes to the character of Peter seamlessly. His unnecessary heroics do detract from the subject matter at hand, but overall, highlight just how courageous and determined the group of people behind Eichmann’s capture actually were.
Eichmann himself is also a stand-out. Kingsley manages to make a man who is so horrible and vile, come across as a man who deserves empathy and love. These tricks are played on the audience repeatedly, only for them to be shot right back into reality with a gruesome reminder of everything he did wrong.
He is calculating, he is intelligent and he is pure evil. It’s a fabulous take on a man that, otherwise, would just be seen as a monster. Instead, he is portrayed as a true evil genius – it’s obvious he knew what he was doing, and Kingsley plays on this throughout.
As far as technicalities go, this movie is also highly rated. The cinematography and the score really compliment each other, bringing further tension to the movie. Even though Weitz didn’t get the direction completely right, it’s not hard to see where he was trying to go with this movie.
Historical movies are a hard genre to crack. They have to be detailed and intricate, where there may be no details. They have to be respectful of the subject matter, but not boring. They have to make the viewer want to watch, even if they already know the ending. Operation Finale tries so hard to be one of those movies that has cracked it. It was so close.
Operation Finale is definitely worth a watch. It might not be the best film you’ve watched in a while, and it’s definitely not the best movie you could watch. It is entertaining and it will educate you (slightly) on one of the biggest monsters known to mankind. So, grab some tissues and prepare to learn.