Movie Review – Operation Finale (2018)

Hey 3.5 readers.

Just a quick review here.

World War II may have ended in 1945, but for many Jewish people, “closure” (if that was even possible) didn’t come until the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Third Reich’s “Final Solution” i.e. the Nazi official who devised the Holocaust.

In the early 1960s, an ex-patriot community of Germans still carrying a torch for Hitler has formed in Argentina.  Hiding out among them is Eichmann, having found a new life as an auto factory foreman.

Enter Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) who leads a team of Israeli spies on a mission to identify and kidnap the Nazi and bring him back to Israel for trial.  Unsurprisingly, it’s a high stress situation, as Malkin faces flack from all sides, from his backseat driving bosses in Israel, to the Argentine government who don’t take kindly to foreign espionage missions being carried out on their home turf, to the local pro-Nazi community who want to protect Eichmann at all costs.

The worst enemy of all is Eichmann himself, who, as a captive, goes out of his way to get into Malkin’s mind.  To Malkin’s disgust, Eichmann argues they aren’t that dissimilar.  Eichmann was “just following orders” and it’s not like there was much opportunity for a Nazi to voice dissent.  Worse, he argues the Holocaust was “humane,” i.e. his instruments of death, ovens and gas chambers, though vile, were better than putting Jews in ditches, shooting them, then burying them, which as we see in a flashback, happened before Eichmann got his efficient system of death up and running.

Malkin, on the other hand, was a young boy during World War II, but he saw the death and destruction first hand, having lost family in the most gruesome of ways.  He knows there’s no excuse for the atrocities. It’s up to Malkin to stay strong against the mind games and get Eichmann to break before he does.

This is another Oscar worthy role for Isaac, allowing him to prove he’s got the acting chops the Academy likes to see.  The film will probably come and go quickly out of theaters, but just as he did in 2016’s The Promise, he’s out to prove that he’s more than his swaggering, trigger happy fly boy character in the latest Star Wars films.

It was odd to see Nick Kroll, a comedian and master of gross out humor, as Malkin’s fellow Israeli operative.  It’s a serious role in a serious film yet somehow, you expect Kroll to break out in fart noises any minute.  He does well with the character, but if he’s transitioning to drama, he might need to get a few more roles under his belt before I stop seeing him as his character in The League.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Worth a rental.  Obviously, due to the subject matter, it’s not exactly the feel good movie of the year, but it provides some history of a dark time and how the Israelis worked to locate Nazis all over the world and bring them to trial.

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