PG-13 Dir: Chris Weitz | Universal | 2h 2min
Plot: What’s it about?
I saw Operation Finale in theaters, but don’t recall seeing or hearing much about it prior. I had seen maybe a TV spot here and there, but never a theatrical trailer. If you’re like me, sometimes that can be a good thing as it’s nice to go in fresh to a film. I’m a huge Ben Kingsley fan, and any chance I get to see his work, I take it. I have strong confidence in saying that his performance in Sexy Beast is arguably one of the finest performances ever captured on film. Directed by Chris Weitz, Finale ultimately didn’t do a whole lot for me, but I can appreciate what it was going for. Of course, the performances are one of the big selling points here, so let’s take a look at what we can expect.
Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) is an Israeli spy who is tasked with a team to track down and capture Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley). Eichmann was assumed dead, but is known to be living in Argentina under an assumed identity. After his capture, he’s to stand trial for being one of the major players of the Holocaust. The film spends a lot of time with the procedure and eventual capture of Eichmann before slowing down after he’s held captive. The problem isn’t with the performances or even the story which isn’t all that surprising. The problem is the execution which just sort of sits there. The film is never as thrilling as it thinks it is or even wants to be. It draws reminders of Argo and Munich, but doesn’t play in that same league. Even Valkyrie, which featured characters trying to assassinate Adolf Hitler created some great moments of tension. Obviously we knew the characters wouldn’t be successful, but it worked, because we saw it through their eyes. They thought they were successful in their attempt.
Looking back, I wonder if the film needed a tighter screenplay or a more capable director. I’ve compared this to some other films, but even last year’s The Post held me more than this film. Perhaps I’m coming too hard on the film, but it doesn’t work as a thriller and as a drama, I just couldn’t become too terribly invested. It successfully recreates this era and the performances are fine, but my interest waned.
Video: How’s it look?
Presented in a 1.85:1 AVC HD encode, Operation Finale has a few scenes that look great, though the majority of the film seems a bit dank and bland. That, of course, was the intent and not a fault of Universal’s Blu-ray. Detail is excellent, as we would expect with some a lot of natural light and scenes prevailing. Flesh tones seemed a bit on the washed out side, but again it was a stylistic choice. It’s a fine-looking transfer, just not the most colorful one out there. Fans should be pleased.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Included is a fairly robust DTS HD Master Audio mix that’s sure to please. Vocals are at the heart of the film and sound lifelike and realistic. There are some ambient surround effects thrown in for good measure, but by and large this isn’t a film watched for its dynamic audio. I could only count a few “head turning” moments, but they’re widely used. It’s a good-sounding track, but nothing to get too overly excited about.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director Chris Weitz has had some pretty interesting tracks on other films. This is no different. Though the film was met with somewhat mixed reviews, Weitz has a method to his madness. He discusses the theme, what brought him to the project as well as working with Sir Ben Kingsley.
- Inside the Operation – Cast, filmmakers, and crew discuss working together, filming in Buenos Aires, and their collective approach to telling such a historically significant story.
The Bottom Line
Operation Finale isn’t a bad film at all. In fact, it’s well-made and features some strong performances and even the central premise is interesting. I think it’s more the execution feels pedestrian. Scenes that should play with more tension don’t and the story rather chugs along. Some might find a rental to be in order, but I can’t see even the most die-hard fans watching this more than once.