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“Operation Finale” matches Oscar Isaac with Ben Kingsley

Once upon a time, Ben Kingsley gave his career best performance in Schindler’s List. Fast forward to 2018, and he’s actually playing a member of the Nazi high command. That’s a total 180, but if any actor can pull that off, it’s Kingsley. The Academy Award winning thespian has not had the best roles to play of late, but this week, he has a solid one to sink his teeth into. It’s Operation Finale, a dramatic retelling of a true life spy operation in the 1960’s. If it won’t be another Oscar player for Kingsley, it at least gives him one of his best roles in some time, and that’s worth something.

The movie is an historical thriller, as you might have guessed. This is the plot summary available for it: “Fifteen years after the end of World War II, a team of top-secret Israeli agents travels to Argentina to track down Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi officer who masterminded the transportation logistics that brought millions of innocent Jews to their deaths in concentration camps. Hoping to sneak him out of the country to stand trial, agent Peter Malkin soon finds himself in a gripping game of cat and mouse with the war criminal — with life and death at stake.” When information concerning the whereabouts of Adolf Eichmann (Kingsley) reaches the Mossad, a mission is put together to bring him to justice. Led by Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac), capturing Eichmann is only just the start. His team will have to get him to Israel safely as well. All the while, the two are engaged in an unconventional battle of the wits. Chris Weitz directs a script from Matthew Orton, while the cast includes Joe Alwyn, Michael Aronov, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Benjamin Hernandez, Greg Hill, Ohad Knoller, Nick Kroll, Mélanie Laurent, Haley Lu Richardson, Greta Scacchi, Peter Strauss, and more. Cinematography is by Javier Aguirresarobe, while the score comes to us from Alexandre Desplat.

This film has its issues, but Isaac and Kingsley aren’t among them. They both turn in some very fine work. Isaac puts his own spin on a spy character (actually suggesting that he could one day be a really strong Batman/Bruce Wayne, but that’s something for another time), while as mentioned above, Kingsley has his first truly strong role to play with in some time. There isn’t a strong sense of urgency here, which hurts the movie, but these two actors certainly give it their all. The supporting cast is unfortunately wasted, though at least this pair isn’t. They’re the selling point for the flick, bar none.

Here’s an updated look at the best Isaac’s performances so far to date:

10. Annihilation
9. Mojave
8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
7. Suburbicon
6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
5. Drive
4. Ex Machina
3. 10 Years
2. A Most Violent Year
1. Inside Llewyn Davis

Honorable Mentions: In Secret, Operation Finale, Robin Hood, and The Two Faces of January

Special Citation: Show Me A Hero (TV Miniseries, which if eligible wold be his second best work to date)

Tomorrow, audiences can see Isaac and Kingsley do some high quality acting when Operation Finale opens. Again, the film itself is only decent, but their performances go above and beyond. They almost singlehandedly save the movie. If you dig on their work, this could certainly be up your alley. Weitz deserves credit for trying something different, though he didn’t 100% pull it off. Still, his casting choices were on point, that’s for sure. If you wind up seeing the flick, that’s why you’ll be seeing it. Even if other aspects of the final product let you down, Isaac and Kingsley sure do not…

Be sure to check out Operation Finale if you’re an Isaac or Kingsley fan. It hits theaters this Wednesday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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