Review: Suspense simmers in 'Operation Finale'

Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley star in middling thriller about the man who brought the architect of the Holocaust to justice

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Mélanie Laurent, Oscar Isaac, Nick Kroll, Michael Aronov and Greg Hill in "Operation Finale."

A real-life thriller that never really sizzles, "Operation Finale" is part "Argo" and part "Munich," though it doesn't quite reach the heights of either of those standouts.  

Oscar Issac stars as Peter Malkin, an agent with the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad in 1960. He leads a team to capture Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), the architect of the Holocaust, bringing him out of hiding in Argentina to stand trial for his crimes. 

The mission involves extracting Eichmann from his home, where he lives quietly and works as a foreman in a local factory. Malkin and his team — which includes characters played by Michael Aronov, Greg Hill, Nick Kroll and Mélanie Laurent — stake out the property and formulate the perfect plan to apprehend Eichmann.

What they don't count on is airline issues stalling their exit and forcing them to hole up with Eichmann in a safe house for an extended period of time.

The director here is Chris Weitz, whose all-over-the-place filmography includes "American Pie" (which he co-directed with his brother, Paul), "About a Boy," "The Golden Compass" and a "Twilight" movie. His intent is to make a crackling potboiler with a potent backdrop, but the tension wanes in the film's droopy second half as the balance of the operation hangs on getting Eichmann to sign a piece of paper.

Isaac, who is also a producer on the film, does the noble and heroic thing well, if a little on the bland side. Kingsley can make a trip to Trader Joe's unnervingly intense, but here his performance is mostly inward, as he rationalizes his actions by saying he was simply following orders. 

The film's tick-tock narrative undercuts the real suspense of the story, which is whether Eichmann will atone for his atrocities. The markings here are of a fiery potboiler, but "Operation Finale" never ignites.


'Operation Finale'


Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and related violent images, and for some language

Running time: 123 minutes