'Operation Finale' praised and criticized as it hits theaters

Fauda's Lior Raz tells KAN that his Hollywood debut was nothing short of 'a dream'.

August 23, 2018 18:11
2 minute read.
A scene from 'Operation Finale' of the Mossad operation to hunt down and capture Holocaust mastermin

A scene from 'Operation Finale' of the Mossad operation to hunt down and capture Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann. (photo credit: VALERIA FLORINI/MGM)

A Hollywood film about a secret Israeli operation is hitting theaters around the globe – and garnering wildly mixed reviews.

Operation Finale, starring Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac, tells the true story of the Mossad operation to hunt down and capture Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann in 1960. The film premiered in New York earlier this week, and will be released to the general public next week. The movie will only hit Israeli theaters in late September.

Kingsley plays Eichmann, while Isaac portrays Mossad operative Peter Malkin. Comedian Nick Kroll portrays the Mossad’s Rafi Eitan and Fauda star Lior Raz plays then-Mossad director Isser Harel.

In its review of the film, Variety said that Operation Finale is “plausible and sketchy, intriguing and not fully satisfying.” Variety reviewer Owen Gleiberman wrote that the film’s least engaging scene is after the Mossad has captured Eichmann and is plotting how to smuggle him out of the country: “It’s here that the movie turns sodden and ‘philosophical,’ and less than convincing.”

The Guardian gave the film just two stars, saying that its “moral reductionism is the blemish marring an otherwise well-acted thespians’ showcase.” According to the newspaper’s review, the film paints “Eichmann in a discomfortingly sympathetic light, daring the audience to buy his spiel about being a good German and doing right by his family.” Overall, Guardian reviewer Charles Bramesco wrote, the film “doesn’t have the philosophical depth to back up its analytical ambitions.”

But The Hollywood Reporter viewed the film in a more positive light.

Reviewer John DeFore said the movie “beefs up the psychological and moral overtones of what might be a simple procedural adventure” and “benefits from a strong cast.”

Likewise, Entertainment Weekly praised Kingsley and Isaac for their work on the film.

Director Chris Weitz and writer Matthew Orton “have done well by this chapter of modern Jewish history, even if they occasionally steer too hard into melodramatic Hollywood espionage thriller clichés,” wrote reviewer Chris Nashawaty. He added that it is the “psychological duel between the terrific Isaac and Kingsley as captor and prisoner that delivers the film’s most charged jolts of electricity.”

None of the major reviews mentioned Israeli actor Raz’s turn as Harel, in what was a background role – but his English-language debut.

“It was incredible – to work with incredible people, like Nick [Kroll], Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley,” Raz said in an interview with KAN that aired Wednesday evening. He said he flew straight from filming Fauda in Israel to shooting the film in Argentina – wildly different experiences. “It was a dream.”

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