As a political thriller, Operation Finale gives an enticing political premise. However, it lacks the strong intensity needed in a thriller.
Operation Finale tells the true story of Israeli special agents with the mission of extracting Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) from Argentina. The primary agent and our protagonist is Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac), who isn’t that well liked to his superiors but is needed for the job. Throughout the film, we learn his history and how the Holocaust affected him and his family. Isaac gives a good performance and the character is likable enough to watch.
Now there were a lot of agents, which means a lot of characters, which makes it difficult to handle every one of them appropriately. On top of that, we have Argentinians who help the agents and other Nazi’s in Argentina that we follow. The surprising thing is that most of the characters seem interesting, each with a story of their own. However, it fails in balancing all of them and for the most part, we don’t get anything special out of them.
The film is often bogged down by heavy dialogue that (for the most part) feels like it’s going nowhere. While there are some engaging moments between characters, specifically with Malkin and Eichmann, most of the dialogue is the cause for the slow pace of the film, as well as certain dialogue that didn’t match with the characters. There are some witty exchanges, most coming from Rossi (Nick Kroll), but it doesn’t always fit. This leads to another problem I found, which was the tone. With such a serious subject matter, there are a lot of lighthearted moments that just didn’t work. Nick Kroll was the only one who seemed to strike that perfect balance of both the lighthearted tone, with the emotional beats of its serious subject matter.
When it came to the portrayal of the Nazis they held nothing back. There’s a scene early on of Nazi’s saluting and shouting that is arguably one of the most intense sequences in the film because it’s real and still prominent. The film doesn’t make you sympathize with any Nazi, but it does show you that many are seemingly ordinary people. There’s also an interesting subplot between an Argentinian woman and a Nazi, but that ends pretty quickly. Once again, too many characters and not enough time to balance every thread of story together.
The film is quite honestly very average. I wouldn’t say it’s bad because it’s well-structured and the performances are quite good, but the film was also slowly paced, which felt like it was dragging. When discussing the Holocaust, it’s well done and respectful, but nothing that’s never been seen before. To me, the best part of the film was the chemistry between Isaac and Kingsley. Even before words are spoken to each other, we get a strong sense of tension from Malkin to Eichmann and when they start talking you are completely engaged. The dialogue between the two is greatly written, as each character tries to gain control of the other through conversation. It’s when the two leads share the screen that really makes the film more engaging. I personally found everything that built to the climax to be very anticlimactic but also satisfying, especially at the very end.
While the subject matter is fascinating, the film Operation Finale doesn’t make the story so compelling. We follow the story from beginning to end, we know every detail, it isn’t confusing, but it still manages to fall flat.