Based on the true story of the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kinglsey), director Chris Weitz’s film Operation Finale is serviceable, but it never fully grips the audience.
Oscar Isaac plays Peter, part of a team of Israeli special agents who travel to Argentina to capture Eichmann, who fled Nazi Germany to avoid capture at the end of World War II. They successfully abduct him, but their escape is delayed, leading to several tense interactions between Peter and Eichmann. Meanwhile, other Nazis in Argentina, including Eichmann’s son (Joe Alwyn), try to stop them.
At its best, Operation Finale poses thought-provoking questions about the nature of justice. When the crime is as great as the Holocaust, even successes like the capture of Eichmann still feel slight compared to the loss of approximately 6 million Jewish lives, alone. Kingsley's skillful performance reminds viewers that history’s monstrosities are committed by people who are usually quite ordinary (Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” when observing Eichmann’s trial).
On the other hand, the characters of the Israelis fail to register much. They are all motivated by righteous grief and anger, but viewers don’t really get to know them as individuals. While the conclusion admirably avoids sensationalism, it also fails to generate much suspense.