Political Film Review #572

The film Operation Finale, directed by Chris Weitz, begins with titles indicating that 6 of the 10 million killed by Nazi Germany were Jews. Brief flashbacks to the Holocaust appear throughout the film. When the film begins, police in occupied Austria knock on the door of someone they believe is Adolf Eichmann in 1954, shoot him after they arrest him from his residence, and soon realize that they had the wrong person. Peter Malkin (played by Oscar Isaac) is one of them.

But the real action starts in Buenos Aires, where many Nazi members have settled after Germany’s surrender ending World War II in Europe. Hanna Elian (Mélanie Laurent) is dating Klaus Eichmann (Joe Alwyn), son of Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley). Klaus fabricates the tale that his he is devoted to his uncle, who brought him up when his father died. A Jew, she surmises that the “uncle” is Adolf Eichmann and lets someone in the Israeli government know. After some effort to persuade Mossad to follow up, a team is assembled to kidnap him and bring him back to Israel for trial. However, the Argentine government will only allow him to be escorted from the country voluntarily.

A carefully planned kidnap is executed, taking Eichmann to a secret residence with the goal of inducing him to sign a statement that he wishes to go to Israel. A bad cop/good cop scenario then ensues” Eichmann is alternately bullied and coaxed into signing. Meanwhile, Eichmann’s son is eager to get his father back. After informing the Nazi cohort of his father’s disappearance, they search for the safe house where Eichmann might be.

The main message of the film is that sweet talk of Peter Malkin gets Eichmann to sign. But the Nazis soon find the residence. The Israelis then leave the back door and rush to the airport to avoid being delayed by the pursuing Nazis. The end of the story is well known, though Malkin gets Eichmann to reveal his conflicted emotions as he prefers death in gas chambers to firing squads as the “final solution.” The film was not intended to reveal anything about Trump but some dialog does. MH

For years, Asians and Asian Americans have struggled to prove their talents while Hollywood has often cast Caucasians in Asian roles. Now that era may be over, thanks to Crazy Rich Asians, directed by John M. Chu, based on the novel by Kevin Kwan. All actors are Asians or Asian Americans—and they are terrific at their craft!

At the heart of the plot are two love stories. One couple marries to satisfy Chinese cultural expectations but goes sour because the extraordinarily muscular groom has already been carrying on another love affair. The more Romeo/Juliet story involves Rachel Chu (played by Constance Wu), an economics professor in New York, and Nick Young (Henry Golding), the son of a Singapore tycoon who loves her for her independent qualities yet fails to tell her about his family roots, something that he later admits was a mistake. Indeed, his mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) observes that he has forgotten who is really is. The conflict between American culture, which respects those who follow their passions, runs up against the Chinese culture’s stress on putting family obligations first. As the love affairs go through their paces, filmviewers are treated to delightful antics and opulence of the rich Chinese throughout Asia, while hiding how Malays are treated in the island Republic. MH