Blu-ray Review: Operation Finale

By , Contributor
Now available on Blu-ray, Operation Finale is the based-in-truth story of the search for, and eventually apprehension and trial of, SS officer Adolf Eichmann. While not light viewing by any stretch, it's one of 2018's best movies. The importance of the subject matter, of course, cannot be understated. Whether or not Finale is entirely accurate is more a matter for qualified historians (nearly all movies of this nature take at least some liberties for the sake of clear storytelling).

What the film does so effectively is present a history-based narrative in a way that is emotionally absorbing. If it sends viewers to non-fiction sources (books, or even Wikipedia) than it has done its job. Anyone not already well-versed in WWII history (or post-WWII history, I guess) will not only learn a thing or two here while being entertained (using the word loosely, not in the conventional sense with a movie like this), they might also be inspired to learn more.

Director Chris Weitz (working from a screenplay by Matthew Orton) keeps the tone staid, almost old fashioned. Part thriller, part drama, Finale does the unthinkable in that is forces audiences to face the monstrous Eichmann as a "regular" guy, a family man who has settled in Argentina in 1960. He escaped prosecution for war crimes following World War II and settled in Buenos Aires without repercussion. Mossad (Israel's national intelligence agency) is tipped off as to Eichmann's whereabouts via the aging criminal's son's girlfriend and a top secret, highly dangerous mission is put in place.

Ben Kingsley turns in award-worthy work as Eichmann. As one might expect, he steals every scene he's in, crafty a creepily fascinating portrait. Though less showy, Oscar Isaac is note-perfect as Peter Malkin, Mossad agent involved in Eichmann's capture and extradition. Of the agents involved in the operation, Malkin becomes closest (for lack of a better word) to Eichmann during the agonizing period in which the team lays low while waiting to transport their prisoner to Israel.

Operation Finale doesn't waste of a minute of its two-hour running time, quietly maintaining a gripping tone without ever deviating from its deliberate, methodical pace. Universal Studios' Blu-ray edition includes audio commentary by director Chris Weitz (who helps fill in some of that additional historical fact in what seems to be quite an informed track). "Inside the Operation" is a short (six minutes) featurette that is pretty standard EPK fare.

Operation Finale.jpg

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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