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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Operation Finale is a drama/thriller based on the true story of a manhunt for one of the Nazis' top architects of the Holocaust. It has brief but upsetting/shocking sequences of mass killings, dead bodies, a hanged woman, and a tortured woman (a swastika is carved into her chest). Viewers will also see guns and shooting, some fighting/struggling, brief footage from real Holocaust films, and more. Language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," and the "N" word, as well as some disturbing, hate-filled dialogue from Nazi characters about Jewish people. Casual drinking and smoking are shown (accurate for the era), and a man places his hand on a woman's knee in a sexual way, but it's only for show. Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley co-star.
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What's the story?
In OPERATION FINALE, it's 1960, and word comes down that Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), the so-called architect of the Nazis' "Final Solution" during World War II, has been located, living quietly in Buenos Aries with his wife and two sons. Israeli secret agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) is assigned to get him, but there's a catch: Eichmann must be brought back to Israel alive to stand trial. Malkin assembles his team, including his ex, Hannah (Melanie Laurent), a doctor he can trust to administer sedatives to Eichmann. The grab goes well, but then there's a delay, and in order to secure a plane back home, they must get Eichmann's signature on a letter of agreement. Malkin starts interacting with Eichmann, putting everything at risk. Meanwhile the Nazi-sympathizing Argentinian authorities have stumbled on a clue to Eichmann's whereabouts, and time is running out.
Is it any good?
Director Chris Weitz softens the edges of this true Holocaust-related story, providing a familiar Hollywood thriller template that works without demeaning the events at the center. It's less grim than it could have been, making it (for better or worse) more palatable. Screenwriter Matthew Orton starts Operation Finale with an unrelated incident that establishes Malkin as an unorthodox rebel, making him appealing in a Humphrey Bogart-like way. There are montages of the team getting ready for their assignment and the introduction of the ex-girlfriend character to provide some playful male-female banter from time to time.
While the rest of the cast members are mainly placeholders, Isaac plays Malkin with a smoldering confidence, and he's hugely appealing. Kingsley has the more difficult role, playing a man who's definitely guilty and possibly a monster, but who's more complex than we might imagine. His scenes with Isaac have an electricity as they bash their heads together in an effort to come to some kind of truth. A few well-placed, well-framed flashbacks reveal the actual horrors of the Holocaust, underlining just what was done -- and what was lost. Yet Weitz doesn't try to get too artsy or too self-important. He brings the same popular sheen he gave to The Golden Compass and his entry in the Twilight series, while maintaining the proper respect and dignity that the material deserves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Operation Finale's violence. What impact do the images of Holocaust atrocities have? How does that compare to what you might see in an action movie?
How accurate do you think the movie is to the facts of what happened? Why might filmmakers decide to change things while making a movie? Does that lessen the power of the original story?
How are drinking and smoking portrayed? Do they seem like a product of the time, or are they glamorized in any way?
When Eichmann says, "you're not interested in what I have to say unless it confirms what you already think you know about me," what does that mean? Does that statement apply to anything today?
- In theaters: August 29, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: December 4, 2018
- Cast: Oscar Isaac, Melanie Laurent, Ben Kingsley
- Director: Chris Weitz
- Studio: MGM
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disturbing thematic content and related violent images, and for some language
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