Operation Finale by Matthew Orton
Eight out of 10
Operation Finale could have been better, but it is a gripping, dramatic, watchable, compelling motion picture.
It is based on the true story of a Mossad operation that took Adolph Eichmann out of Argentina, where he had found refuge and was already engaged in developing a community of Nazis.
The murderer is portrayed by Ben Kingsley, playing the opposite of the character that has brought him the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role- Gandhi, the epitome of peaceful and non –violent methods.
Adolph Eichmann was the mastermind of the Final Solution and one of the most wanted of the World War II criminals that has managed to escape and run to South America, where he lived under a false name.
In Argentina, he lives with his son, Klaus, and his wife, Vera, and he is celebrated by other fascist escapees, entertaining with them dreams of bringing again to light the vicious fascist ideas.
In the same region in Argentina lives Lothar Hermann, aka Peter Strauss, with Sylvia Hermann, a Jewish girl that was raised Catholic, who becomes close to Klaus and invites him to her house.
Lothar Hermann understands who the father of the boy is, informs the Jewish community and this information is related to the Mossad headquarters in Israel, where it is however considered that they need to concentrate their limited resources on the present and not the past.
This is only for a while and due in large part to doubts that the real Eichmann has been found, the difficulty of getting him out if the information proves correct and the calamity that would follow a botched attempt.
The logistics of the operation is indeed more than a reason to ponder over the plan, at times it seems impossible to pull off, given that army airplanes would be unable to reach that far – although they did fly all the way to Entebbe, in another awesome Israeli operation.
They would need to use the services of the flag carrier, El Al, and use the celebrations occasioned by a round figure of years since the Argentinean Independence, to elude the authorities and take the war criminal out.
Peter Malkin is the most important figure in the Mossad team, portrayed with brilliance by the great Oscar Isaac, and he is in love with Hanna Elian – played by the equally formidable Melanie Laurent – who is also part of the operation.
Indeed, it looks like without Hanna Elian they would not get the approval, for she is the expert that would give the fascist the correct dose of medication to keep him drugged while they pass the customs, without killing him.
It is to be a difficult task, the agent does not even want to participate initially, because she had lost a detainee, because the dose is so hard to establish and in the awful circumstances imposed by such abductions accidents can and do happen.
The team is given a safe house in Argentina, they have cars to which they attach diplomatic plates when necessary, support is offered by the Jewish community living there, albeit some doubt if their allegiance is to Israel or Argentina.
Agents follow the moves of the Nazi criminal, establish the plan of abducting him when he returns from the Mercedes plant where he works, in a place where it is dark and then embark him on the El Al flight that would take him out of the country.
After they manage to get Eichmann, there are complications because the fascists quickly realize what happened, but more importantly, El Al insists they want a signed statement from the war criminal that shows he agrees to be on trial in Israel.
Adolph Eichmann refuses to sign and even to admit that he is man they are looking for, and when he confesses that he is the infamous architect of plan, he tries to use the usual flimsy cover ups, he was just a clog in a machine, everyone, including the Mossad agents, has to obey orders…
Peter Malkin tries a new approach, giving the prisoner cigarettes, engaging in conversations with him, in order to get him to sign the crucial document, without which the whole mission would have failed.
There are tensions over this tactic, other members of the team feeling that Malkin is going too far, one would very much like to torture the monster and get him to sign and if not just eliminate him pure and simple.
Peter Malkin himself has a couple of scenes in which he seems very close to killing the brute, for he remembers his sister and her children, who were killed by the fascists, who have murdered six million Jews in the war.
Furthermore, at a critical moment, the loathsome, disgusting Eichmann decides to talk about his presence in the forest where the sister of Malkin was killed, the scene where a multitude of innocents are lined in a trench and then shot, a young woman holding her baby up, trying to give it to the monster, while a bullet kills first the baby, then the mother and the Nazi official has to wipe the brains off his clothes.
The tragedy is immense, the film is notable, but there is something missing and the insistence on the signed document seems exaggerated.