Official poster for "Operation Finale." (Photo courtesy of IMDb)

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“Operation Finale” follows all the Hollywood archetypes of a spy film. While it’s mostly entertaining, the action unfolds on the surface without unpacking many of the nuances that a story this complicated contains.

Oscar Isaac stars as Peter Malkin in this historical drama based on the true story of how Israeli Mossad agents were tasked with capturing Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), a Nazi war criminal who had been hiding out in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after World War II.

(Trailer courtesy of IMDb.)

The biggest missed opportunity in the film is not showing enough of Eichmann’s trial and court proceedings in Israel. The trial was a major televised event in 1961: It lasted almost two months and included dozens of witnesses, many of them Holocaust survivors. Director Chris Weitz does include real footage from the trial and lets us know what happened to the characters after it was all over (Eichmann was hanged in 1962), but only dedicating the last few minutes of the film to this is not enough to show the seriousness, impact and scope of what it meant for Israel to have someone like Eichmann captured and on trial.

Without a doubt, the highlights of the film are seeing Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley spar against each other. Both actors are considered some of the greats of their generation and they prove that thanks to a few well-written exchanges. They round out an interesting cast that also includes Nick Kroll in a dramatic role, playing one of the Mossad agents. Although he takes turns with Isaac to provide some of the film’s punchlines as per his usual style, drama suits Kroll well as he nails his part of peacekeeper among his colleagues.

Verdict

I’m usually a historical drama fan, but this one didn’t blow me away. The film’s predictability and too many near-misses make the film unnecessarily long at two hours and doesn’t pack the punch of justice that films in this category usually do. It would have been much more stunning to see Kingsley take the hit in court than the fumble that was the search to find him.

6/10