‘Operation Finale’ finds its stride in quiet, tense moments
It’s surprising that a film detailing a dangerous extraction reaches its highest tension at its simplest moments. “Operation Finale” chooses a drama-oriented route that excels when there is just conversation. Although the movie feels a bit tonally unfocused at times, the entertaining story and great acting compensate for it.
With World War II ending fifteen years prior, several high-ranking German officials have escaped justice by taking their own lives. That is true, except for Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), “The Architect of the Final Solution.” Led by Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac), a group of Israeli agents are sent to Argentina to extract Eichmann, hoping they can bring him to stand trial. Once Eichmann is being held in a safe house, the team gets to experience the true danger behind the manipulative mastermind.
The mind games between Malkin and Eichmann are what make the film so compelling. There is little action in the film as a result of the emphasis on the struggle between the protagonist and antagonist. The conversations between the two were engaging; every response was better than the previous. The whole movie was well-structured. The balance of these interrogation scenes with the surrounding events created a pattern that made the viewer comfortable. There wasn’t a time that I was bored, so I can’t complain.
To make a film like this, great performances are a necessity. Isaac and Kingsley fill this need with outstanding chemistry. The amount of emotion they developed as they played off one another kept me on the edge of my seat. With the reluctant calmness of Isaac and the undermining persona of Kingsley, they egged on one another. Once again, the film was its best when the camera was rolling with these two in a room. While the rest of the cast was talented as well, Isaac and Kingsley stole the show.
My main gripe with the film is it feels lost with its tone. At times there seemed to be a little more drama than there should be; the film would try to readjust by throwing in some light-hearted moments. There was one scene in particular with Kingsley’s character on a toilet. This unequal tone was hard to ignore, especially when some of the jokes didn’t stick. The score of the film contributed to this with a unique whimsical choice for the opening credits. It came across as playful, which seemed off-putting for a subject as serious as this film’s.
While there is a lack of a much-needed consistent tone, “Operation Finale” still maintained itself as a thrilling drama. The thoughtful story and dialogue accompanied with strong performances made it a film worth watching. I just wish I didn’t have to see Eichmann delivering a monologue while on the porcelain throne.