Operation Finale, tries cinematically depicting the banality of evil without succumbing to banality itself.
The banal evil is nazi architect of the “final solution” Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) hiding under government repose in Argentina. The other banal evil Operation Finale tries to avoid is the cliches of the raid story about the Mossad agents assigned to capture Eichmann and bring him back to Israel for trial.
Director Chris Weitz comes up with half a solution. He lets the raid play out straight but choreographs a dance macabre between Eichmann and Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac), Mossad agent and conscience of Israel living with holocaust guilt, that takes up the film’s middle section. In between there are the usual flashbacks to holocaust atrocities.
Kingsley and Isaac deliver an acting tour de force as Eichmann and Malkin debate the finer ethos of atrocities, need for historical confession, justice and the limits of good and evil.
The conclusions the two reach are both banal and horrific. The torturer recognizes and sympathizes with his victim and the victim sees the humanity of his evildoer.
Operation Finale doesn’t offer up grand revelations just small shocking ones.