REVIEW — “Operation Finale”
Oscar Issac is a good man.
Operation Finale is directed by Chris Weitz, written by Matthew Orton and stars Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, and Joe Alwyn. It tells the true story a team of top-secret Israeli agents who travel to Argentina to track down Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi officer who masterminded the transportation logistics that brought millions of innocent Jews to their deaths in concentration camps. Now, this has all the makings of a great film. With its solid cast and even more compelling story, this could have been something truly remarkable and it almost gets there. Operation Finale is a very inconsistent movie whos faults are regularly eclipsed by its fantastic performances from Oscar Issac and Ben Kingsley.
Chris Wietz is directing here and if I were to point a finger at why this falters at times, it would be at him. Wietz lacks a real control of Operation Finale. He is able to get some fantastic performances and scenes from his actors, but largely, the hights of the film fall on them. For the first act of the film, Wietz kind of meanders around and has a lot of trouble getting this going. There is a pretty cool opening sequence but at times Operation Finale has no real identity or energy. It picks up a lot in the latter half of the film, but for a while, I was really dreading the idea of continuing to watch. Wietz does half of a good job but largely relies on the talent of the actors to carry Operation Finale to the ending.
Matthew Orton penned the script here and he does a pretty solid job. He takes a very unique approach here and gives the actors, particularly Kingsley a lot to work with. Instead of portraying Eichmann as a black and white evil man, he humanizing him and makes him almost likable, yet showcases what a horrible person he is all at the same time, leaving the audience to question whether or not what he says is true or not. While at times, the plot isn’t as fast-paced and engaging as the true story would require, there are some of the best scenes of the year showcased here. Maybe with a re-write or a collaborator, Orton’s script would always be at the level of its highs.
Let’s get to it. Operation Finale has a very solid cast, but most importantly, it has Oscar Isaac and Sir Ben Kingsley. These two handsome boys act their butts off and deliver two of the best performances of the year. Oscar Issac is phenomenal, delivering a nuanced, restrained and moving performance. He is fantastic in everything he does and hopes he starts to get the recognition he deserves. Sir Ben Kingsley absolutely crushes it, delivering one of his best performances in years. He is evil, charming, sympathetic, and malicious all at the same time. These two boys deserve some recognition for their work and while unlikely, have more than earned a nomination for something. The rest of the cast does a great job too, but these boys are the stars.
On a technical level, Operation Finale is actually pretty interesting. Everything here is pretty par, and while there were a few odd moments of editing, particularly in scenes where characters where hitting each other, nothing is glaringly bad or amater. Its cinematography can at times be a little basic and not too interesting, but can also be very beautiful and inspired. The score, well nothing I haven’t heard before, was very well done and fitting. Operation Finale won’t blow you away with technical mastery and it probably won’t blow you away at all. But, it’s performances will.
So in short, Operation Finale is a somewhat flawed film that showcases two fantastic performances that make seeing this worth it. 3/5