Combustible Celluloid
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With: Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Mélanie Laurent, Lior Raz, Nick Kroll, Michael Aronov, Ohad Knoller, Greg Hill, Torben Liebrecht, Michael Benjamin Hernandez, Joe Alwyn, Greta Scacchi, Peter Strauss, Haley Lu Richardson, Pêpê Rapazote Rainer Reiners, Simon Russell Beale
Written by: Matthew Orton
Directed by: Chris Weitz
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and related violent images, and for some language
Running Time: 122
Date: 08/31/2018

Operation Finale (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Get Eichmann

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For this Holocaust-related movie, director Chris Weitz softens the edges of the true story and provides a familiar Hollywood thriller template that works without demeaning the events at the center. It's less grim than it could have been, and more palatable.

In Operation Finale, it's 1960 and word comes down that Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), the so-called architect of the Nazi "Final Solution" in WWII, has been located, living quietly in Buenos Aries with his wife and two sons. Israeli secret agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) is assigned to get him, but there's a catch: he must be brought back to Israel alive, to stand trial.

Malkin assembles his team, including his ex, Hannah (Mélanie Laurent), a doctor whom he can entrust to administering sedatives to Eichmann. The grab goes well, but then there is a delay. In order to secure a plane back home, they must get Eichmann's signature on a letter of agreement. Malkin begins interacting with Eichmann, putting everything at risk. Meanwhile the Nazi-sympathizing Argentinian authorities have stumbled upon a clue as to Eichmann's whereabouts and time is running out.

Screenwriter Matthew Orton starts Operation Finale with an unrelated incident that establishes the Malkin character as an unorthodox rebel, making him appealing in a Humphrey Bogart-like way. There are montages of the team getting ready for their assignment, and the introduction of the ex-girlfriend character to provide some playful male-female banter from time to time.

While the rest of the cast are mainly place-holders, Issac plays Malkin with a smoldering confidence, and he's hugely appealing. Kingsley has the more difficult role, playing a man that is definitely guilty, and possibly a monster, but who is more complex than we might imagine. His scenes with Isaac have an electricity as they bash their heads together in an effort to come to some kind of truth.

A few well-placed, well-framed flashbacks provide the actual horrors, underlining just what was done, and what was lost. Yet director Weitz doesn't try to get too artsy or too self-important. He brings the same popular sheen he gave to The Golden Compass and his Twilight entry, while maintaining the proper respect and dignity that the material deserves.

The Blu-ray release from MGM and Universal includes fine quality picture and sound; bonuses include a director's commentary track and a very short featurette, plus trailers at startup. The release includes a bonus digital copy and DVD.

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