I can only suspect that OPERATION FINALE was greenlit immediately after the release, the success and the best picture Oscar win for ARGO. OPERATION FINALE feels almost beat by beat, an in spirit copy of ARGO, where a group of mercenaries is sent into a foreign land, to attain an individual(s), and extract them secretly as outside forces close in. This isn’t necessarily a new formula, even by ARGO’s standards, but it’s a formula that can grow stale if not handled properly or in a unique way. By the way, if you’re curious, I thought ARGO was overrated.
OPERATION FINALE is about the capture of one of the architects of the final solution, Adolf Eichmann (Kingsley). Eichmann, along with several other SS officers, fled after WWII ended, with many escaping to Argentina. Unfortunately for Israeli intelligence and others looking to prosecute Nazis, Argentina doesn’t extradite, even the lowest of the low. So a team, led by Peter Malkin (Isaac), infiltrates the South American country, identifies Eichmann, and sets out on a mission to capture one of the most heinous members of the Third Reich.
It should be good, but it isn’t. The biggest problem, along with ARGO, is that I know how it ends. It’s not because I’m well versed in historical fact, but it’s more or less what I’ve come to expect from this feel-good genre. No one wants to watch a movie where the old Nazi gets away and justice isn’t served. Just like no one wants to leave ARGO with everyone getting shot up or captured again. There’s a reason you’ve never seen a historical movie about the end times of Josef Mengele, and only see him in bizarre dramatic fiction like THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL.
That being said, OPERATION FINALE isn’t a bad film. It’s well-acted, mildly entertaining during interrogations scenes, and doesn’t cheapen the message of how evil around the world should answer for their crimes. It just does nothing to elevate its content above fine and dandy when it could have potentially fooled people into believing its Oscar worthy content, or actually being Oscar worthy. It’s actually a much better movie once Eichmann is captured, up until his breaking point under interrogation. That’s where Kingsley’s seasoned acting comes into play and he verbally and mentally spars with his captors. Unfortunately that’s sandwiched between 30 minutes on each side.
Malkin should be another interesting and dramatically intriguing piece to the film’s puzzle, but he never quite comes into his own. There’s this nagging subplot about a previously failed attempt to capture a Nazi under his watch, but you’d have to have never seen a movie before to be engaged or fooled by this ploy. But just like I stated before, it’s the middle of this movie where this comes into its own, including Malkin. I quite enjoy watching Isaac feed off of Kingsley’s performance.
In another day, another time, another year, and maybe another parallel universe, OPERATION FINALE is the great movie it wants and tries to be. In 2018, it’s a noble effort with a noble story to tell, but it’s just average, nothing more. If it weren’t for the performances, OPERATION FINALE may have been a bit dull. Luckily they did a passing job at telling the tale of Malkin and his team’s capture of a hideous man. It’s a story worthy of telling, and there’s no harm in telling it again in more capable hands.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 1:85:1) The picture is crystal clear, but this movie is unnecessarily dark, cheapening the presentation.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) No problems with the audio.
Inside the Operation (6:24): This is a brief, but interesting look behind the making of the film. Nothing too revealing though.
Audio Commentary with Director Chris Weitz: I will have to once again chime in on my general disdain for solo commentaries. While Weitz provides a lot of details throughout, it seems more structured as if he’s reading off notes instead of letting the commentary naturally flow as memories come flying back to him.