Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Movie with Abe: Operation Finale

Operation Finale
Directed by Chris Weitz
Released August 29, 2018

There are many movies made about the Holocaust, a number of them based on true stories and others on events that might have happened to real people that have been dramatized into a creative structure. Some take place before the rise of the Nazi regime, some while they are still in power and concentration camps are being used to house and exterminate those inside, and others long after the Allies have officially declared victory and the Holocaust remains a nightmarish stain on history. All can be equally effective, especially since the memory of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust never fades for those who experienced it.

Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) is a Mossad operative in Israel chosen to head a team that includes Rafi Eitan (Nick Kroll) and Hanna Elian (Mélanie Laurent) to travel to Argentina in 1960 with one goal: capture the man that they believe is Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley). While dealing with the logistics of secretly extracting a war criminal to stand trial for the first time in Israel, Peter and his team are confronted with the weight of the mission they are trying to accomplish and the implications it could have for the world to see the Holocaust presented in an incontrovertible and very public way.

This film resembles a number of recent films that have also dealt with high-profile kidnappings and government operations that didn’t go as planned. At times, it feels like “Kidnapping Mr. Heineken,” where the abductors don’t seem to have much of a clue what they’re doing but aren’t too fazed by it, but it’s much more comparable to the Oscar-winning success “Argo,” which tells a relatively serious story in a playful manner full of entertainment. There are moments at which it approaches the gravity of “Munich,” but those come mostly from Peter being haunted by his own losses from the Holocaust and the reminder of just how a momentous a role the man they are after played in the architecture of the Holocaust.

This is a film where backgrounds and nationalities don’t matter all that much, since a mention of a character’s origins suffices rather than an actual attempt to take on a regional accent or dialect. As a result, Isaac and comic relief Kroll feel and sound particularly American, which detracts slightly from the story, while Kingsley, British as usual, delivers the most compelling and unforgettable turn as Eichmann. The film does manage to tell a gripping story, one capable of holding the attention of anyone watching. Knowing how events turn out doesn’t ruin the effect of this impactful mission, one worthy of showcasing in this format and done well enough here.


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