Note: This is a spoiler-free “Operation Finale” review
Oscar season has arrived early, boys and girls. And I mean that in more than one way.
Oscar Issac and Ben Kingsley combine to have a chilling chemistry in the tense and twisting historical drama, “Operation Finale”.
I don’t think enough can be said about the cat and mouse act going on between Issac and Kingsley. Issac plays a secret agent from Israel named Peter Malkin who is tasked with finding the mastermind of the Holocaust — Adolf Eichmann — played by Kingsley.
If the conversation in history played out like it does in the film, the negotiation process between the two men was truly fascinating. Malkin is not a negotiator by trade, but Eichmann seems to be more than well-versed in the subject. The way the conversation evolves has legitimate twists and turns that keep the audience on its toes, which isn’t easy to do when depicting historical events.
Issac brings the complex story of Peter Malkin to life. His performance displays character development, compassion, grit, and a deep-rooted sadness all rolled into one. All these emotions pull from a single life experience, which shapes the man he is and the man he becomes. Issac takes you for a ride and attaches a strong protagonist to an important moment in history.
Kingsley is equally brilliant on the opposite side of the coin. If you want to talk about character development, Kingsley’s version of Eichmann is it. Kingsley is witty, sneering, ruthless, and sympathetic toward others all at once. To be blunt, it’s an extremely odd feeling to experience any emotion other than disgust toward a Nazi.
Obviously, this is a Hollywood portrayal of Eichmann and not the man himself, but you’ll be in the middle of “Operation Finale” and wonder what the hell you’re seeing. Full credit to Kingsley for evoking those emotions.
Issac and Kinsgley are the clear stars of the film. It’s not that other performances aren’t good, it’s just that those two overshadow everything else because they’re so good. Nick Kroll deserves a nod for his role, simply because he brings a certain levity to the film that gives it a different dynamic. The film takes a serious tone throughout (obviously), so his change of pace with quippy one-liners is welcomed.
A High-Quality Operation Behind The Scenes
All the above points lead to a few people who get credit for their work behind the scenes. Writer Matthew Orton and director Chris Weitz show off all their skills in “Operation Finale”.
Orton builds and develops scenes with only dialogue for at least 80% of the film. The acting performances are great, but a lot of that is bringing a suspenseful cat and mouse game to life. The mix of emotions intertwined with the depiction of a massive historical event is done incredibly well.
On top of that, it’s Orton’s first writing credit in Hollywood. What a start to a promising career.
Weitz’s expertise shines as the suspense builds through “Operation Finale”. The film builds on two separate occasions toward a pair of big moments — once from the beginning to a payoff in the middle, and once from the middle to the climax at the end of the film. The suspense and tension are palpable throughout and the payoff is worth it, especially at the end.
Should I see “Operation Finale”?
Simply put, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2018. History buffs will enjoy it because it recounts a monumental moment and brings attention to the big screen. Movie buffs will enjoy it because it has excellent acting, writing, and direction. Weekend movie-goers will enjoy it because it’s entertaining and gripping throughout.
Yes. Go see “Operation Finale”.
(Featured Image via Filmspotting)