Operation Finale is the story of the identification, capture, and extradition of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Herr Eichmann was the “architect of the final solution,” the man responsible for the plan for the Nazis to exterminate the Jews. Remarkably true to the facts, Operation Finale gives the audience a real sense of both the operation to bring Eichmann to Israel to stand trial, but also of the personal struggles faced by the Mossad agents tasked with retrieving him.
Operation Finale stars Oscar Issac in the lead role of Peter Malkin and Ben Kingsley as the war criminal Eichmann. It is directed by Chris Weitz, and the music is composed by Alexandre Desplat. Operation Finale is rated PG13, but does include some intense violence and difficult images and topics, such as references to the Holocaust. We’d caution against children seeing the movie, but encourage parents to use this film as a conversation starter for pre-teens and teens to impact the lessons of history and guide their spiritual and moral growth on topics like justice, vengeance, sin and God’s holiness. A full review, breaking down the good and bad elements of the movie can be found at Plugged In’s movie review site here.
Eve came into Operation Finale with very little historical knowledge of the post-war Nazi hunt, and was able to view Operation Finale with a rather clean slate. She really found the movie both educational and entertaining. If you, like me, are interested in learning more about the post-Nazi flight to South America, you can check out articles like this one from the History Channel website.
Both of us really, really enjoyed (and were more than a little creeped out by) Ben Kingsley as Adolf Eichmann. Kingsley has shown once again why he is such a sought after talent and why he has been nominated and received so many awards for his craft. He does such a good job portraying the evil sincerity of the genocidal Eichmann that it made my skin crawl even while I was amazed by the depth of Kingsley’s performance.
I was also particularly appreciative of the fact that Operations Finale didn’t come at us with any particular ulterior motives. Yes, it did show the horrors of the Nazis and the Holocaust, but it didn’t manipulate or distort the facts to try and make the convey anything other than what happened. That happens so much modern media, I thought it was a breath of fresh air to have a compelling story that didn’t try to force an opinion down my throat.
Vengeance versus Justice
The contrast between the concepts of vengeance and justice was the backbone message of Operations Finale. While Israel did seek out and kill Nazi fugitives, in the case of Adolf Eichmann, Israel specifically wanted to bring him back to stand trial in the land of the Jews. This didn’t sit well with all the members of the Mossad team. When told that they were going to Argentina to abduct and extradite Eichmann, one member of the team emphatically replied, “Nobody needs to hear what he has to say!”
Through Kingsley’s performance, though, we slowly come to understand an important fact about the perpetrators of the Holocaust: they were 100% committed to their doctrine of extermination. They believed, without any doubt, that they fought the enemies of Germany, and that those enemies—the Jews—must be exterminated to protect Germany and the world. The leaders of the Third Reich were, on many levels, completely blind to the horrific atrocities of their actions:
The evil do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand everything. (Proverbs 28:5)
Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; justice without mercy is cruelty. —Thomas Aquinas
True mercy cannot be granted without the weight of true justice bearing down on the recipient; that is by God’s design and is the wonderful truth of Christ’s sacrifice and propitiation of our sins.
Like so many godly concepts, however, justice is facing perversion by today’s society. Justice is not fair; but is always just. Justice is being bent to subjective belief, like the idea of truth. What is just for me may not be just for my neighbor. What is just for a conservative is not what a liberal considers just, and neither may be anywhere near the truth. As those in Christ, we are called to keep God’s justice in all things and to reject mankind’s ideas of justice when they contradict those of God. Albert Mohler discusses similar ideas in his podcast, “The Briefing” from Wednesday, September 26th, 2018.
For we know the one who has said, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay’, and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people’. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30-31)
Fallen humanity does not have the capacity to define even some of the most basic definitions, and Christians are no exception. Even statements of faith like Pastor John MacArthur’s Statement on Social Justice fall short because it lacks absolute certainty in its definitions.
On the extreme end, these disagreements on definitions can lead to horrors like the Nazi doctrine of the Final Solution.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.'” (Romans 12:19-20)
Even while we cannot achieve true justice, we neither should pursue vengeance. Vengeance isn’t ours to have, it’s God’s. Out job is to glorify the Lord and enjoy him forever. Vengeance is part of God’s promise to his people:
“Is it not stored up with me, sealed up in my vaults?
Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay. In time their foot will slip, for their day of disaster is near, and their doom is coming quickly.”
The Lord will indeed vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees that their strength is gone and no one is left—slave or free.
He will say: “Where are their gods, the ‘rock’ they found refuge in?
Who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up and help you; let it be a shelter for you.” (Deuteronomy 32:34-38)
This battle, between the desire for vengeance and the call for mankind to strive for the unobtainable true justice, is what fuels the conflict of the members of the Mossad team of Operation Finale. As individuals, we must remember that we are called to glorify God. The most effective way we can do that is treating every other person as the Image of God that they are. They will stand for their crimes, hopefully in this world and definitely before the Throne of Grace, but [almost] no sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace. No person, no matter the depths of depravity or horrific actions, is beyond God’s ability to redeem.
Written by the Victors
Adolf Eichmann makes it clear that he would have written a very different history of the Third Reich than that which made it into the collective history books. This serves to remind us that all presentation of history is subjective. Only the facts of history that reflect well on the author’s interests and poorly on the author’s disdains will be presented. Even those will be manipulated further to the worldview of the author, intentionally or not. Those of us in Christ must remember that God’s truth is all that matters and that our citizenship in heaven is paramount. We may be proud citizens of our earthly countries, but we should never elevate the actions of one party or the other, one government or the other, to the level of divine authority.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. —George Santayana
Please support the podcast!
Are You Just Watching? is listener supported. Special thanks to our current patrons: Amanda John, Craig Hardee, Richard French, and Stephen Brown II for their generous support. We can't continue to share critical thinking for the entertained Christian without your financial help, so please head on over to our Patreon page and become one of our supporting patrons! As a benefit of her support of AYJW, Amanda John wishes us to promote 2ndvote.com, a conservative watchdog for coorperate activism.
Share your feedback!
What did you think of Operation Finale? We would like to know, even if just your reactions to the trailer or the topics we shared in this episode. Or what general critical-thinking and entertainment thoughts or questions do you have? Would you like to suggest a movie or TV show for us to give a Christian movie review with critical thinking?
- Comment on the shownotes
- Call (513) 818-2959 to leave a voicemail
- Email feedback@AreYouJustWatching.com (audio files welcome)
- Join our Facebook discussion group.