'Operation Finale' offers riveting drama depicting the capture of Adolph Eichmann
Director Chris Weitz's film utilizes tight shots, actors delivering Oscar-worthy performances and gruesome archival footage of concentration camps.
| 8:54 a.m. September 4, 2018
Arts + Entertainment
"Operation Finale" is an apt title for a film about the capture of Adolph Eichmann, who was the architect of Hitler's Final Solution. It's a true story of heroes, villains and retaliation against horrific persecution.
At the end of WWII, Eichmann escaped to Austria for five years and, eventually, to Buenos Aires where he remained in hiding for 10 years. Nazi-sympathizing Argentinians welcomed him and went to great lengths in protecting his identity. In 1960 a team of Israeli intelligence agents captured the "banality of evil" who organized the slaughter of 10 million human beings, six million of whom were Jews.
Oscar Isaac portrays Peter Malkin, a dedicated Mossad operative. To him and his team, capturing Eichmann (Sir Ben Kingsley, the master of subtle menacing) is personal. All of them lost loved ones in the Holocaust. It's of utmost importance to them and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (a stalwart Simon Russell Beale) to bring Eichmann back alive so that he can stand trial for all the world to witness. The intricate capture hits some major snags which force the team to keep him prisoner for days on end. Malkin is the only one who believes that kindness toward Eichmann will encourage him to sign a required confession. Surprisingly, it manages to get results.
The tense one-on-one dynamic between Malkin and Eichmann is captivating (no pun intended) to watch. We see a side of Eichmann that seems relatively human and capable of compassion. But at the same time, a monstrous murderer devoid of remorse.
Director Chris Weitz has managed to craft a riveting historical drama in which the outcome is widely known. It's a film that's more cerebral than action-driven, but still has white-knuckle moments. Weitz employs gruesome archival footage of the death camps as well as reenactments of deplorable acts perpetrated on human beings as Nazis stand by laughing as they look on. And he permits long, lingering stares into the camera. His pairing of Isaac and Kingsley was a spot-on move. They own this provocative and insightful drama, giving Oscar-worthy performances.
In 1962, on the first of June, Adolph Eichmann was executed by hanging and his body was cremated in an oven. Oscar Isaac, in an interview, observes that watching what happened in Charlottesville while filming "Operation Finale," "... it horribly becomes clear that we're not making a movie about the past, we're making a movie about what's happening right now." We must never forget.
Note: A trailer for "Schindler's List" is being re-released Dec. 7, marking its 25th anniversary preceded the screening of "Operation Finale." It was incredibly impactive.