Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Chris Weitz|
|Written by||Matthew Orton|
|Music by||Alexandre Desplat|
|Edited by||Pamela Martin|
|Box office||$17.6 million|
Operation Finale is a 2018 American historical drama film directed by Chris Weitz, from a screenplay by Matthew Orton. The film stars Oscar Isaac (who also produced), Ben Kingsley, Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, and Haley Lu Richardson, and follows the efforts of Israeli Mossad officers to capture former SS officer Adolf Eichmann in 1960. Several source materials, including Eichmann in My Hands, a memoir by Israeli officer Peter Malkin, provided the basis for the story. Principal photography began in Argentina in October 2017. The film was theatrically released in the United States on August 29, 2018 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer through their joint venture with Annapurna Pictures (now called United Artists Releasing) and received mixed reviews from critics.
After World War II ends, Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) disappears; other Nazi leaders commit suicide and none face trial for their crimes. Years later, Mossad agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) mistakenly kills the wrong person while hunting a Nazi war criminal in Austria, damaging his reputation.
In Buenos Aires, Sylvia Hermann (Haley Lu Richardson) unknowingly begins courting the son of Adolf Eichmann, Klaus (Joe Alwyn). At dinner with her German-Jewish father, Lothar (Peter Strauss), Klaus openly speaks negatively about Jews in Germany and claims his father died in the war. Lothar grows suspicious and passes his name along to Mossad in Tel Aviv. Field agent Zvi Aharoni (Michael Aronov) is dispatched in Buenos Aires to begin reconnaissance, presumably being offered the job over Peter.
Klaus takes Sylvia to a meeting, which turns out to be a Nazi revival led by Carlos Fuldner, which Eichmann also attends. Realizing what the meeting is, Sylvia abruptly leaves, ending her relationship with Klaus.
Now working in coordination with Mossad, Sylvia meets the Eichmann family at their home under the guise of reconciling with Klaus. An argument between her and Klaus causes Adolf (living under the name Ricardo Clement and claiming to be Klaus's uncle) to intervene; Klaus accidentally refers to him as his father and Eichmann is subsequently photographed. Eichmann notices the operative taking his photo and sketches him.
The Mossad team uses the evidence from the meeting to confirm Adolf's identity and plan his capture - they intend to disguise themselves as an air crew and fly him out while sedated. Peter and his ex-girlfriend Hanna, a doctor, are brought on to the team with her role to keep Eichmann sedated during their travels. After capturing Eichmann, he admits his real identity, but his family realize that Sylvia found out as well, and inform the police who prevent their plane from taking off. The agents learn that the Israeli airline, El Al, will not agree to transport Eichmann unless he signs an affidavit stating he will willfully go to Israel; he refuses to sign because he does not believe he will get a fair trial. The team's interrogator is not able to get through to Eichmann, but Peter eventually does by sharing his personal story of the loss of his sister and her three young children to the Holocaust and listening to Eichmann's story about being ignorant of the actual killing of the Jews, his job being focused exclusively on logistics.
During the plane's delay and while they await Eichmann's capitulation, Klaus and the police increasingly investigate Eichmann's disappearance, distributing the sketch of the operative to the public. As the Mossad team prepare to leave, Eichmann drops his polite facade and tells Peter a horrific story of watching 5,000 Jews murdered in a pit, cruelly wondering aloud if one of them (a woman who had begged Eichmann to save her infant) was Peter's sister.
When one of the Mossad team is captured after using US dollars instead of pesos, she reveals the location of the safehouse, and the rest of the team must escape in one car, leaving two operatives behind. The police also confiscate the plane's landing permits, grounding it. Peter hand-delivers a copy of the permit to air traffic control and, seeing the police closing in, orders the plane to take off without him.
Later, all the operatives reunite at Eichmann's trial. Text indicates the outcome of his trial and Peter's life.
- Oscar Isaac as Peter Malkin
- Ben Kingsley as Adolf Eichmann
- Lior Raz as Isser Harel
- Mélanie Laurent as Dr. Hanna Elian
- Nick Kroll as Rafi Eitan
- Joe Alwyn as Klaus Eichmann
- Haley Lu Richardson as Sylvia Hermann
- Michael Aronov as Zvi Aharoni
- Peter Strauss as Lothar Hermann
- Ohad Knoller as Ephraim Ilani
- Greg Hill as Moshe Tabor
- Torben Liebrecht as Yaakov Gat
- Michael Benjamin Hernandez as Dani Sharlon
- Greta Scacchi as Vera Eichmann
- Allan Corduner as Gideon Hausner
- Tatiana Rodriguez as Annie Werner
- Pêpê Rapazote as Carlos Füldner
- Simon Russell Beale as David Ben-Gurion
- Greta Scacchi as Eichman's wife, Vera Eichmann
On November 16, 2015, it was announced that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had bought an untitled spec script from Matthew Orton, about the team who found and captured Adolf Eichmann. Brian Kavanaugh-Jones co-produced the film through his production company Automatik. On February 24, 2016, Chris Weitz was reported as being in talks to direct the film.
A deal was struck in March 2017 that saw Oscar Isaac co-produce and star in the film, taking on the role of Peter Malkin. Chris Weitz was set as director. In June, Ben Kingsley was cast as Adolf Eichmann. In August, Lior Raz joined the production, and in September, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, Joe Alwyn, Michael Aronov, and Haley Lu Richardson were cast, with filming to begin in Argentina on October 1. The cast was rounded out on October 12, and filming was underway in Argentina. Peter Strauss also joined the cast, on November 30.
Operation Finale was originally scheduled to be released on September 14, 2018. However, in July 2018, the film was moved up to August 29, 2018, in the U.S., due to high test screening scores, and to avoid the crowded September field. The film was released outside of the United States on October 3, 2018, by Netflix.
In the United States, Operation Finale was projected to gross $8–10 million from 1,810 theaters during its four-day Labor Day opening weekend. The film made $1 million on its first day and $725,891 on its second. It went on to gross $6 million over Friday to Sunday, for a four-day weekend total of $7.8 million, and a six-day total of $9.5 million, finishing fifth at the box office. In its second weekend, the film dropped 50% to $3 million, finishing eighth.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 60% based on 123 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Operation Finale is well-intentioned, well-acted, and overall entertaining, even if the depth and complexity of the real-life events depicted can get a little lost in their dramatization." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 86% positive score and a 65% "definite recommend".
In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, John DeFore called the film "a lively historical thriller" and wrote, "Though not likely to enter the pantheon as either a true-life caper (Argo's people-smuggling was more exciting; Munich's tale of vengeance more affecting) or as a showcase for face-the-past mind games, the drama benefits from a strong cast and can easily replace 1996's The Man Who Captured Eichmann as the go-to dramatization of this episode."
The New York Times' A. O. Scott gave the film a positive review, "It’s a story very worth telling, told pretty well, with self-evident virtues and obvious limitations. Viewers who see it out of a sense of duty will find some pleasure in the bargain. Call it the banality of good."
- List of American films of 2018
- List of Holocaust films
- Eichmann Before Jerusalem, about his life in Argentina
- Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt's account of Eichmann's trial
- The House on Garibaldi Street, 1979 US made-for-TV film based on Harel's memoir of the operation.
- The Man Who Captured Eichmann, 1996 US TV movie
- The Eichmann Show, 2015 BBC TV film on the broadcasting of the Eichmann trial
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