Operation Finale is Chris Weitzs’ historical thriller about the capture of SS officer Adolf Eichmann – the architect of the Holocaust – from Argentina after the second world war. Oscar Issac takes on the role of Peter Malkin, an agent working within the Mossad who becomes part of a covert intelligence squad that travel to Argentina and attempt to kidnap Eichmann (played by Ben Kingsley) so that he can be tried for his crimes against humanity in Israel.
The most important thing to remember about this movie is that it is based on a true story. From watching this film, it felt like a solid and respectable tribute to all the individuals directly/indirectly involved in this operation. Many films that concern themselves with the Nazis are often set in the backdrop of WW2, and are more “war-driven”. Not that I think that this subject matter has over-saturated Hollywood, but Operation Finale is unique in that explores what happened to national socialist party members after the events of the war. Operation Finale takes us to Argentina – where we discover the existence and flourishment of colonies made up of individuals who were once Nazis.
I also admired that this film pulled no punches. There were many disturbing sequences portraying the gruesome and inhumane treatment of Jewish prisoners by the Nazis. This is a crucial aspect of the movie because this is what drives our characters to partake in this life or death operation – they wanted justice to be served to the culprits of these crimes. Peter Malkin, a real-life personality, also had a very interesting and tragic backstory involving his deceased sister that served as his motivation to serve. His arc nearly brought me to tears.
However, this film is not without its flaws. For one, it is very much a rip-off of the movie Argo. The two films have glaring similarities – both involved transporting passenger(s) out of a country due to geopolitical/historical reasons and disguising said passengers so that they fit a certain alibi to get them out of the country. Both feature a tense final sequence at an airport. Both also contain a male lead with a complicated and insecure relationship.
The portrayal of some of the characters in the movie also weren’t very historically accurate. Adolf Eichmann (played by Sir Kingsley), who proclaimed himself to be German/Austrian, had a very pronounced British accent. Members of the Mossad also spoke in French and American dialects, which really did not land well with me. It would have been more courteous of the director to cast or train individuals capable of speaking and behaving in a manner consistent with the people they are portraying.
In summary, Operation Finale is a perfectly watchable and admirable film. It is admirable in the sense that it describes one of the most consequential recon-and-capture operations in history. The movie is also very unapologetic through its depiction of gruesome Nazi war crimes against the Jewish people. However its main limitations were its eerie similarities to Argo and underwhelming portrayals of real life Israeli and German personalities.