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Movie Review: “Operation Finale”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Operation Finale

Theatrical Release: 8/29/2018

Theatrical Release: 8/29/2018

Synopsis

World War II has ended, but one of the masterminds behind the Holocaust is still at large. Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) was responsible for organizing the mass deportation of Jews into ghettos and concentration camps. Many see Adolf Eichmann as one of the key figures of the Nazi Regime, and many justifiably see him as largely responsible for the deaths of six million Jews. Unfortunately, little is known of his whereabouts after the war.

Fifteen years after World War II, top-secret Israeli agents receive intelligence of Adolf Eichmann’s whereabouts and his current identity. The agents travel to Argentina in an attempt to discretely extract Adolf and return him to Israel where he will be put on trial to answer for the six million lives he orchestrated the deaths of. This will not be an easy mission, however. In order to avoid international conflict, the agents must abduct Adolf and get him to willingly agree to go to Israel. Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) hopes to be the agent that is responsible for bringing Adolf in, but he will need to rely on his team if they are to have any hope of success.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Ben Kingsley (+10pts)

Slow (-8pts)

Oscar Isaac (+5pts)

The Team (-4pts)

The Holocaust (+4pts)

Klaus & Silvia (-3pts)

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Pro: Ben Kingsley (+10pts)

Has Ben Kingsley ever been in anything where he was not great? This movie is further evidence—as if we needed any—that Ben Kingsley is one of the greatest actors of our time. In this movie, he played a character that we as an audience could not easily sympathize with. He made audiences actually sympathize with him—as much as anyone could—while also playing the character in an intense way, and that intensity made it impossible to look away during the movie’s slowest moments.

His character was mean and he was severely racist. It would have been very easy to make this a one-note character, but Ben Kingsley gave this role layers that I was not expecting. The guy was a horrible human being, but Ben Kingsley made his story feel somewhat tragic, and will make audiences feel somewhat sympathetic. Maybe he was playing masterful mind games, or maybe he was truly feeling the guilt and weight of what he had done. Audiences will struggle with this uncertainty, and this was a credit to Ben Kingsley‘s performance.

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Con: Slow (-8pts)

This was kind of expected given the plot of the movie, but this movie felt slower than I anticipated. This movie can be broken down into four parts and all of them were slow. The first part was about the agents organizing their mission to retrieve Adolf. In this part we saw Peter talking to other agents who were to be involved, trying to recruit his ex-girlfriend, and coming up with a plan. The second part of the movie consisted of the agents in Argentina trying to gather intelligence on Adolf Eichmann's current lifestyle. They needed to abduct him, but they needed to do so without witnesses, so they needed to act at the most opportune time.

I will not get into the third and fourth parts of the story to avoid spoilers, but what I can mention is that they were not any more eventful then the rest of the story. This was a dialogue heavy movie that did not really have a satisfying pay off. Yes, the story had a conclusion, but it did not have a climactic one. The filmmakers just sort of told the audience what happened, and ended the movie without delivering any real impact. A slow burning story can be impactful if there is a big pay off. This, however, was a slow, dialogue heavy story with a lack-luster finish.

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Pro: Oscar Isaac (+5pts)

Ben Kingsley's character was complex and layered, and he shined in the role, but Oscar Isaac deserves a ton of credit for his performance here as well. I will be honest, the character was written poorly, but Oscar Isaac did a great job at making the character interesting anyway. The character was Jewish and lived in Israel during the Holocaust. Naturally, he had lost loved ones, and he was on a revenge mission against Adolf Eichmann, who he saw as largely responsible.

There was not anything about this character that was complex. His story was, sadly, the same story as millions of people during that time. On top of that, it was the same story as every other agent in this movie, but Oscar Isaac did a fantastic job of making this character’s journey feel personal. Maybe it was his tone, maybe it was the visible pain beneath the surface, but I found myself interested in this character’s story—more so than his fellow agents.

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Con: The Team (-4pts)

I do not have too much to say here, which is a testament to how generic and uninteresting the side characters were. In the beginning of the movie, we saw nameless, faceless Israeli agents coming together and organizing a plan. None of them stood out in any way, and none of them contributed really anything to the story. This was an agency executing this mission, and the only one that really stood out was Oscar Isaac's character. The rest were just nameless, faceless goons, and I feel like the movie would have been a lot more impactful if we got to know more about the team that was trying to take Adolf Eichmann down. Instead, we really only got to know one character, and it made the rest of the agency feel pretty irrelevant.

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Pro: The Holocaust (+4pts)

Some movies use the Holocaust as a gimmick, and others use it to easily create antagonists that audiences will hate—because, you know: Nazis—but this movie did a great job of making the audience feel the dark weight that fell on the world during and long after the horrific things that took place during the World War II. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like, but this movie did a good job of giving audiences a small taste of that pain. Watching loved ones brutally murdered is a horrific thing to imagine, yet every agent had experienced just that. The Holocaust can be a tricky thing to convey to audiences that were not alive to experience it themselves, but I thought the filmmakers of this movie handled it well. It was a horrific time in our history, and it helped fuel the audiences' desire to see Adolf Eichmann brought to justice.

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Con: Klaus & Silvia (-3pts)

This storyline was one of the key elements that led to the discovery of Adolf Eichmann’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing special about this storyline or either character in it. Klaus was a Nazi. That was pretty much all you need to know about him, and the character was just as generic as you would imagine a generic Nazi antagonist to be. Silvia had potential, but the filmmakers dropped the ball with her as well. She was raised a Christian, fell in love with a Nazi, then learned that her family was Jewish. There was a lot that could have been done with this character, but the movie was too cluttered with generic side characters, so the filmmakers did not have the time—or the desire—to push the development of an interesting character like Silvia.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C+ (79pts)

Operation Finale had all the makings of a very impactful drama, but the filmmakers failed to capitalize on this opportunity. The movie had very talented stars with Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac. Ben Kingsley gave a fantastic performance that will have audiences sympathizing with the character, even though he was an unforgivable Nazi, single-handedly responsible for millions of deaths during the Holocaust. He was a terrible man, but Ben Kingsley gave a fantastic performance that will have audiences wondering if he actually felt remorse for what he had done. Oscar Isaac did not do anything incredible here, but he was able to add depth to his generic character. The same, however, could not be said for the rest of the cast.

The rest of the cast was filled with generic characters and uninteresting performances, which due to the long setup and heavy dialogue, will leave audiences a bit bored. The filmmakers were able to maintain some level of interest by how well they depicted the emotional weight of the Holocaust. These characters endured terrible things, and while all of this happened off screen, the actors were able to convey their characters’ pain to the audience, which will have audiences dying to see justice served. There were a lot of good things about this movie, but the filmmakers struggled to connect them. What we were left with was a very slow movie that had heavy dialogue, mostly uninteresting characters, and a lack luster conclusion.