September 5, 2018 – How soon we forget. The dwindling number of U.S. surviving military veterans who battled the Nazi regime and, along, with other Allied soldiers, liberated the extermination camps at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Treblinka, now see thousands of Americans marching under the swastika banner parroting the same beliefs that backed the murder of millions. This film about the capture of the war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960 is a grim reminder of the danger of these ideas.
According to the film, even a blind man, Lothar Hermann (played by Peter Strauss) could see through the deception cloaking the identity of Eichmann (played by Ben Kingsley of “The Walk”) who was, by 1960, living in Argentina, having relocated there years before from his native Austria under an assumed name. He had been living under assumed names for years, starting in 1945, when he slipped through the hands of the Allies, after his capture.
A message is passed to Israel, from Lothar and his daughter, Sylvia Hermann (Haley Lu Richardson of “Edge of Seventeen” where the government decided what to do about Eichmann, the man who had largely directed the Nazi Holocaust, the murder of six million European Jews. Finally, the government decided to capture Eichmann and put him on trial for war crimes. The Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, was given the task of first, verifying that the man calling himself “Ricardo Klement,” living in a newly-built house on Garibaldi Street in Buenos Aires, was, in fact, Eichmann, then devise a way to spirit him out of Argentina.
Heading up the operation is agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) first seen in an operation to kill a war criminal that goes tragically wrong. He wants to kill Eichmann, not capture him. This conflict in him is evident throughout the film. He recruits his ex-girlfriend, Hanna Elian (Mélanie Laurent of “Now You See Me”) to join the mission. She is a doctor and will administer sedatives to make it easier to transport Eichmann past police and security guards.
The team of agents sets up their headquarters in a house in Buenos Aires, where they try to maintain a low profile, while they identify and observe Eichmann, and plot his capture, aided by local Jews, including Sylvia Hermann, who is dating Klaus Eichmann.
The situation in Argentina is complicated by the fact that German Nazi immigrants are numerous, powerful and influential in Buenos Aires. They seem to operate freely, and are very protective of Eichmann and his son, Klaus (Joe Alwyn of “Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk”) who hold places of high esteem in a powerful local German organization.
The situation is further complicated by the insistence of the Israeli government that Eichmann not only confess who he really is, but also must agree to sign a document consenting to relocation to Israel to stand trial. Even though the operatives are authorized to use any means necessary, this is still a tall order.
The odd captor-captive relationship between Malkin and Eichmann plays out against a deadline for flying Eichmann out of the country and the increasingly desperate measures used by Argentinean Nazis to find Eichmann and release him from the hands of his captors.
After watching this, I got to thinking it has a similar kind of story structure as the award-winning film “Argo,” where operatives are tasked with spiriting Americans out of Iran against a similar kind of deadline pressure. This film isn't as good as “Argo,” but it isn't bad, either. It is well-acted and the story is compelling. This film rates a C+.
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