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REEL REVIEW - Operation Finale
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Operation Finale

Rating: PG - 13

Genre: Historical / Drama

Written by: Matthew Orton

Directed By: Chris Weitz

Runtime: 122 Minutes

Cast: Oscar Isaac as Peter Malkin; Ben Kingsley as Adolf Eichmann; Mélanie Laurent as Hanna Elian; Lior Raz as Isser Harel; Pêpê Rapazote as Carlos Fuldner; Joe Alwyn as Klaus Eichmann; Haley Lu Richardson as Sylvia Hermann; Peter Strauss as Lothar Hermann

MOVIE PREVIEW by Bob Hoose - PluggedIn

Sylvia Hermann is a young German woman living in Argentina in 1960. She was sent there as a child during the war to live with her Uncle Lothar. What Sylvia doesn't know, though, is that she's Jewish. She doesn't know because her loving uncle has raised her as a Catholic.

So when Sylvia meets blond-maned Klaus at the local movie theater, she doesn't think anything of it—other than the fact that he's another German transplant just like her. And a very attractive one, at that. And she's just young enough that Klaus' last name, Eichmann, doesn't ring any bells for her.

She doesn't think of concentration camps.

Or of millions of dead Jews.

Or of a man named Adolf.

When Klaus, who's similarly smitten with Sylvia, comes over for dinner, Sylvia's Uncle can't help but think about all of those things. He may be blind, but he easily sees right through Klaus' flimsy tale of his father dying in the war. In fact, Uncle Lothar is so convinced of who this young man must be that he even reaches out to some old Israeli contacts. He's dead set on making someone believe what he believes: Adolf Eichmann, the monstrous head of the Gestapo's department of Jewish affairs, the architect of the Final Solution, the genocidal murderer of six million Jews, is living on the other side of their small Argentinian town.

And someone must bring this man to justice for his crimes.


Israel soon dispatches a Mossad intelligence team to South America to capture—not kill—Adolph Eichmann in order to bring him to trial. The agents all share an intense hatred for this man because of the loved ones they lost at his hands. Still, they steel themselves to protect Eichmann and even put their own lives on the line to see their mission through. And the team's bravery and integrity is evident throughout.

Peter Malkin, one of the key Mossad agents in the operation, takes the time to connect earnestly with Eichmann, guaranteeing the war criminal that he'll get a fair trial and have a chance to see his wife one last time.


It's noted several times that the Jewish people were hated by the Nazi regime. And during a gathering of Nazis in Argentina, a speaker angrily spits his prejudice that Jews poison society. Many in the crowd agree vehemently and call out for the utter destruction of the Jewish state. We see a Catholic priest among that rabid group. And a young man compares Jews to mushrooms "that pop up after a rain."


Peter recruits Hannah, a former lover, to be the doctor on his Mossad team. They kiss at one point. Later, we see Hannah pregnant and sitting in a courtroom. It's unclear, though, whether her baby is Peter's child or perhaps someone else's.


A young woman is stripped down to her slip and hung up by her wrists to be tortured. We see raw wounds that have been cut into her chest. And we watch a man burn her arm with a lit cigarette.

We also witness hundreds of Jews being crowded into a deep trench where they're shot and killed by heavily armed German soldiers (though the actual shooting takes place just offscreen). In fact, this murderous event is one of several flashback-like scenes in which Peter imagines how soldiers might have killed his beloved sister. He sees her holding up her child and begging for the child's life. He envisions her hanging by the neck from a tree branch while her children lay dead at her feet. He pictures her as one of many corpses stacked in a portable gas chamber.

A couple of Mossad agents drag a suspected Nazi outside. By the time Peter realizes he's not the one they're looking for, his fellow agents have shot the man (again, off camera). We later see the corpse with a bloody wound on his upper chest.

After Adolf Eichmann is captured, one of the Mossad agents talks of wanting to pull off the German's fingernails just to hear him scream. Later on, that same man grabs Eichmann by the throat to quiet him, and Peter has to pull the man off before he strangles their prisoner. Eichmann tries to goad Peter into killing him by talking of how he watched Peter's sister be brutally killed.

We see actual newsreel-like footage from a concentration camp, including images of women and children with numbered tattoos. Hannah talks of accidentally killing a man with a drug overdose.


One f-word and about 10 s-words join a single use each use of the n-word and "b--ch." "My god!" is exclaimed once.


Most of the adults in the film smoke frequently. Several characters drink wine. One character swigs alcohol from a flask.


Several Mossad agents sit in the bathroom with Eichmann as he defecates on the toilet (which they, and we, see and hear).


How did Israeli Mossad agents discover, capture and bring one of World War II's most notorious villains to justice in the 1960s? That's the question Operation Finale answers with slow-boiling, dramatic flair.

I won't say that this undercover-agents-versus-secreted-away-Nazis tale is exactly thrilling, in the same way you may have come to expect from a typical Jason Bourne or James Bond pic. But it's solid and compelling, and definitely well-acted by the likes of Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac.

Perhaps more importantly, though, this film communicates the horror and aching loss of the Holocaust without actually showing us many gory details. And the movie leaves us to ruminate upon the idea of true justice—its value, its makeup, and the sacrifices good men will make in its name.