Operation Finale: A Disappointing Climax
Updated: Oct 12, 2019
I went into this movie hoping for an expose on viewpoint, centering on Adolf Eichmann's admittedly insane views, which is the movie the trailers presented us with. Instead what I got was a jumble of randomness centered on the guy who talks to him, and his love life. It's as if the writer was afraid to even try to understand Eichmann's viewpoint, and so instead the story shifted focus to one of the agents. I've done some digging, and apparently the movie does conform to the overall plot of the operation quite well. Better than most 'based on a true story' movies actually. But the truth is in the details. Unfortunately for a Hollywood writer the snatch and grab went without a hitch.
Unsurprisingly, the events in the movie are compressed in timeline. In actuality the Israeli government had been tipped off to Eichmann's whereabouts for two years before they even began the operation. In their opinion they had more important worries than hunting Nazis. And when the operation was finally approved it was planned for months.
The surprising thing about this story is that the group did apparently need Eichmann to agree to be tried in Israel. I was certain this was something made up by the writer to increase drama. Consider, this is a country that sent agents to another country without advice, or consent. Once there, these agents perform a simple straightforward kidnapping. But they need the victim's permission to take him from the country? But apparently that's the right of it. I've unsuccessfully searched for a reason for this requirement. The idea that the airline was demanding this seems ridiculous since they board Eichman drugged and in disguise with false papers, but I find no other reason for it.
But, what wasn't true was that it took any effort or feat of manipulation to get Eichmann to sign this agreement. According to The Nazi Hunters Eichman was basically groveling the entire time the group had him. He actually was relieved they were going to have him stand trial instead of simply offing him there. He initially asked to be tried in Germany, or Austria, but on rejection signed without issue.
But hey, we all know that Hollywood needs drama. Minor dramatizations of this nature could be forgiven. What I can't forgive is the bizarre portrayal of Eichmann himself. He starts off predictably, stating he's not the man they are looking for. When that gambit fails he quickly transitions into cooperation, jokes, and heartfelt conversation with the main character. Fine, I can accept that. But after he's signed his willingness to be tried his misdemeanor changes drastically. Far from the cooperative, understanding individual we've been presented with, he begins ranting about the value of his life. Why? That would have made sense earlier when he thought he'd be rescued. But now that he knows he's to stand trial he obligingly gives eyewitnesses the ammunition to seal his fate?
All in all this movie strikes me as a story that shifted focus half way through. But instead of choosing to either bring it back on topic or commit to the new direction the writer tried to have their cake and eat it too. They focused on one of the agents, yet tried to force those cool lines they'd thought up into the script.
It's point is equally ambiguous. As in, what is it? The movie starts with a Nazi hunt leading to the wrong man being executed. This wasn't even something Israel was doing. As stated above they believed they had more important things to handle. Coupled with the wrongful imprisonment of one man (that never happened) the torturing of a girl, and the cementing of Eichmann's son's hatred of all things Jewish it seems that the movie's point was to address the dangers of trying to redress old wrongs. Yet the movie makes it clear that Eichmann was at the center of a growing Nazi movement in Argentina. In other words he was still a threat. And it ends with people, in essence, breathing a sigh of relief that Eichmann is dead.
In the end I'd have to say this movie was a serious let down for me. Far from the delving into the darker natures of the psyche I'd hoped for, it was more of a failed love story wrapped in a random series of events with no real point. Its one saving grace is that it is not objectionable. That said, I feel I'm being generous when I give it a 50%.