Operation Finale is a historic think piece that depicts the take down of a Nazi who acted as one of the masterminds behind the Holocaust. Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) was less famous than Hitler but he was equally horrible in the extent of his actions- they were beyond just “following orders”. Adolf Eichmann fled to Argentina to avoid being tried for his actions in an Israeli court. A team of trained agents (who happened to be Jewish) sought to bring this evil man to justice to honor his victims. Even though the film is a political drama, the storyline doesn’t distort history in a distasteful manner. The film genuinely follows the events to the best of the ability a historical account could.
The cinematography of Operation Finale is incredible! Director of photography, Javier Aguirresarobe, certainly created masterful work. The shots are calculated and creative; the coloring of the film uses muted tones to reflect the era. Alongside the camera work, the lighting is delicate yet deliberate with night shots having a neo-noir feel to them, while other scenes take your breath away from beautifully diffused sunlight. Unfortunately, all that glitters isn’t gold and these aesthetics don’t carry the film in the manner one would hope.
Even though the film is two hours in duration, the pacing is not what will deter audience engagement, kind of. While the cinematography is beautiful, and the acting is well executed, something about the entire piece feels flat. Seasoned film director Chris Weitz creates an intriguing film that contemplates the political nature of the time, however, he doesn’t take into account the lack of action in the script which becomes problematic with the plot. The story comes to a crawl, which forces the audience out of the film. This distraction throughout the movie ultimately builds to an anticlimactic climax.
Finding an appropriate balance is the true issue for Operation Finale, which can understandably be difficult to tackle with historical pieces like this. Sometimes the story doesn’t have a lot of action, but usually, creatives have a way of using the thought-provoking material to compensate for the lack of action. Other times the film is filled with so much action that it just becomes an unnecessary and violent bloodbath. Screenwriter Matthew Orton uses interesting threads to weave a storyline together, however, the essence of the story is never quite found. The film reads as interesting ideas that are underutilized and falls flat. This is unfortunate because for a film that depicts such an important part of history, it demands a better-crafted execution.
It’s unfortunate the writing doesn’t do the story justice. However, I would not go as far to say I will never watch the film again; it was engaging to see. It is peppered with the commonly recognized Hollywood Jewish Humor which acted as the comedic relief throughout the story. This part of the writing was well executed and the humor came at the perfect time, every time. Small, charming things within the film gave it personality, the characters each had their quips and one liners, making the film more enjoyable within the heavy subject matter. The interpersonal relationships between each actor is genuine and believable.
With all of that being said, this film is a great example of how big budgets can sometimes fail; the elements of the film were there to make it a great piece but there wasn’t a clear cut storyline that was capable of being followed by even the best actors. The cinematography carries the film but I fear the story itself may disengage the average viewer. Even with the elemental issues within the film, I would still recommend seeing it; the story is an important one to know and the tactical actions that were taken to bring Adolf Eichmann to justice are noteworthy.