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Operation Finale

A Cliff’s Notes take on one of history’s great spy operations

© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Mossad agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) infiltrates Argentine society in the 1960s to capture Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), one of the central architects of Hitler’s Final Solution.
       In the 1960s, Mossad had the double role of protecting Israel as a sovereign nation and defending it from terrorism. So the report of an Argentinian sighting of the architect of the Final Solution, Adolph Eichmann (Ben Kingsley: Backstabbing for Beginners) falls to a distant third place. Until agents convince the higher ups that capturing Eichmann and trying him in an Israeli court will prove Israel’s strength. 
       Naturally, there are obstacles. Eichmann has not been positively identified. The Argentinian government is notoriously sympathetic to German nationals and refuses their extradition. Many a Mossad agent would gladly kill the monster responsible for over six million deaths. 
      Despite the obstacles, agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac: Annihilation) comes up with a plan. A small group of trusted agents will go to Argentina, grab Eichmann and fly him back on an El Al flight in disguise. Soon after the grab, things go spectacularly wrong. As the group waits with its villain in a safe house, the entire country seems to mobilize to find them. 
       Operation Finale plays like the Cliff’s Notes version of one of history’s famous intelligence operations. It undercuts its story by glossing over facts and adding make-believe. Director Chris Weitz (A Better Life) juggles three storylines with little drama. He stuffs in a superfluous love story that takes time away from the exciting plot. In depicting a mission that was a team effort, he glosses over all the Mossad agents except for Peter. 
        Though the plot is a bit of a mess, performances are excellent as Isaac and Kingsley play off of each other. Kingsley creates an Eichmann as engaging as he is evil. He’s reasonable and disconcertingly likeable as he tries to befriend the agents holding him captive. 
      Isaac’s Malkin is fueled by the loss of his sister as well as his duty to Israel. Yet he is charming, willing to treat Eichmann as a human being in order to elicit information. But simmering below his genial surface is a rage that threatens the nonviolent mission.
Fair Drama • PG-13 • 122 mins. 
 
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