Operation Finale

Operation Finale

In Theatres: 
Aug 29, 2018
Running Time: 
122 minutes

Following the defeat of Germany during World War II in 1945, many Nazis fled the country and went into hiding so that they wouldn’t have to answer for their crimes. Adolf Eichmann, the architect of Hitler’s “Final Solution,” was one of the highest ranking members of the SS still at large. Operation Finale see a team of Israeli spies infiltrating Buenos Aires to capture Eichmann so they can transport him to Israel to stand trial. While Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley deliver powerful performances, history ends up being far more interesting than Hollywood as the film’s story suffers from some stagnant lulls.


There’s a lot of buildup to Operation Finale as the first portion of the film follows Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) as he tails Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) in Buenos Aires to make sure he’s the correct person. The opening scene of the film shows that their intel isn’t always correct and can sometimes result in disaster when they get their hands on the wrong person. When it comes to someone like Eichmann, they want to be absolutely sure it’s him. The whole mission should be tense because everything is being done covertly and any misstep could have them arrested by neo-Nazis, and yet there’s remarkably little tension at all.


The kidnapping of Eichmann is uneventful as they put him in their car to be taken to a safehouse with little fanfare. I was relieved for a moment, thinking that the pace of the film would quicken now that he was in their possession, but alas they end up being stuck in the safehouse for 10 days when the plane they had scheduled to take them back to Israel is delayed. This lays the tracks for various repetitive interrogation scenes. They’re either feeding him, taking him to the bathroom, or doing some other mundane task that does little to move the plot forward.


Operation Finale becomes interesting when Kingsley and Isaac finally start having a conversation. Malkin needs Eichmann to sign a document saying he’s traveling to Israel on his own free will. Of course Eichmann knows that he’ll be sentenced to death and that any trial is just to create a sense of justice. Everyone sees him as a monster, but in his eyes, he was just following orders. Their dynamic together is captivating as they play this cat-and-mouse game, their roles constantly changing as the power shifts from one to the other. Kingsley does a fantastic job at selling his version of the truth. There are brief moments where you’re convinced he might not be as bad as everyone is saying. It’s a testament to his acting ability, and Isaac is able to go toe-to-toe with him.


I would have loved Operation Finale if it would have focused more on the interactions between Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac rather than the actual mission to get Eichmann out of the country itself. There are often these long, drawn out segments of tedium that don’t do the film any favors. Operation Finale has its exciting moments, but it still ends up looking rather flat next to the real-life events that inspired it.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook