Operation Finale Parent Guide
A gripping account of the Mossad agents who kidnapped Adolf Eichmann to stand trial for his role in the Nazi Holocaust. Ben Kingsley shines as Eichmann.
Parent Movie Review
Operation Finale is a suspenseful look at the search, capture, and return to Israel of Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), the “Architect of the Final Solution”. It follows a group of Israeli nationals from Mossad (Israeli Intelligence) fifteen years after the collapse of Nazi Germany. Acting on a tip, they are traveling to Argentina to apprehend Eichmann and bring him to justice. The stakes could not be higher for these agents who are haunted by their memories of the Holocaust.
We first meet Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac), the protagonist, in Austria a few years after the war. Searching for Eichmann, he captures, and his team kills, the wrong Nazi. Here we are introduced to the story’s first moral dilemma: killing the wrong man is regrettable, but not too bad since he was actually a Nazi, right? This brings us to one of the movie’s great strengths – introducing us to the gray areas that surround one of history’s most black and white horrors.
Later, Malkin is reintroduced as the perfect anti-hero. Now branded an outcast for the aforementioned failure, Peter convinces the powers that be that he is the man to capture Eichmann. What follows is a slow, suspenseful thriller as the mission hits unexpected roadblocks. The operation extends far beyond its original scope as the Israelis try to find a way home without being caught. The agents also struggle with their proximity to the man who orchestrated the deaths of so many of their loved ones. The film focuses on the attempts of Malkin and Eichmann to manipulate each other. As each man tries to get what he wants from the other by exposing his own vulnerabilities, viewers may find themselves asking who really has the upper hand in this relationship.
Eichmann is played brilliantly by Kingsley, who can be downright charming, and who humanizes one of the most inhumane characters in history. The film saves the reveal of his savagery for quite some time: viewers are tempted to empathize with him until they remember how monstrous his deeds really were.
Thematically, and visually, this movie is not for children but a lack of explicit violence and sex keep it at a PG-13 rating. Operation Finale does not shy away from the horrors of the Holocaust, and most tweens and younger teens are probably not ready to handle this level of graphic detail. Much of the violence is implied, although there are multiple images of dead bodies. The movie repeatedly returns to a scene where we see hundreds of people, including children and infants, standing in a mass grave with soldiers standing over them with guns drawn. As the movie progresses we see flashes of this scene fleshed out, and while nothing is explicitly shown, it is intensely upsetting.
Despite the darkness of its story, Operation Finale explores themes of sacrifice, bravery, justice, and morality. Although the movie is very intense, the characters do offer some much needed levity (thank you, Oscar Isaac). It will make you go home and research the actual story and hug your children. Just don’t take them to see it.Directed by Chris Weitz. Starring Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Melanie Laurent, Nick Kroll. Running time: 122 minutes. Theatrical release August 29, 2018. Updated December 5, 2018
Watch the trailer for Operation Finale
Rating & Content Info
Why is Operation Finale rated PG-13? Operation Finale is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disturbing thematic content and related violent images, and for some language
Violence: Multiple scenes with many corpses are seen. We also often see German soldiers with guns drawn. A Nazi is shot and his bloody chest is shown. A woman is hanged in the woods with soldiers all around her and children lying dead in the background. There is also a truck full of bodies that one of the character imagines with his loved ones on top of the pile. And in another scene a minor character is tortured for information. Her blouse is open with her bra visible, and her captors have carved a swastika into her chest, while another character burns a cigarette on her scalp. A character describes scene we have already seen and speaks about wiping a baby’s brains off of his coat. At the end of the movie we are also shown, primarily in the background, actual footage from concentration camps. Piles of bodies being moved can be made out. A character is also repeatedly sedated against his will.
Sexual Content: The scene of a young girl being tortured shows her shirt open with her bra visible, though there is nothing sexual about the scene.
Profanity: Characters curse throughout the movie. There are frequent uses of moderate profanities, two sexual expletives and one racial slur.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Alcohol is consumed regularly at meals and socially by main characters, and several main characters smoke.
Page last updated December 5, 2018
Operation Finale Parents' Guide
In this movie, we are led to see that bad guys can be family men - kind and good to people they love. How does this change the way that we see them? Does this absolve them of the bad things they have done?
What lengths are morally justifiable to bring a mass murderer, or any criminal, to justice? Are there degrees of evil that we can tolerate in the quest for justice? Do the mistakes and compromises the protagonist make taint our view of them?
With a current surge in Neo-Nazism today, what does this movie teach us about “following the crowd”? How do certain characters stand up and sacrifice when they know something is wrong, and how do others give in?
How important is it that we keep the knowledge of these horrors, difficult as they may be to watch, in our consciousness to prevent something like it from happening again?