Operation Mincemeat Review: This Wartime Adventure Proves Colin Firth Is Cinema’s Most Reliable Everyday Hero – Home

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It was one of the biggest deception attempts of World War II. In 1943, British intelligence officers tried to fool Hitler by allowing a dead body to wash up on the coast of Spain. The body was apparently that of a drowned British officer, carrying top-secret plans revealing (falsely) that the Allies intended to invade Greece. In fact, his target was Sicily. The ruse, if it worked, would save thousands of lives and hasten the end of the war.

John Madden’s beautifully staged film, adapted from Ben Macintyre’s 2010 book, is as ingenious in its own way as the plan itself: it creates an absorbing thriller out of events that actually took place almost entirely on desks in gloomy basements. or Whitehall offices.

“In war stories, there is what is seen and what is hidden,” observes young naval officer Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn), still a few years away from writing his first James Bond novels, in a voiceover that is heard intermittently throughout the story. movie. “In the hidden war, the truth is protected by an escort of lies.”

Kelly Macdonald and Matthew Macfadyen in Operation hash (Photo: Warner Brothers/Giles Keyte/Apple)

Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), a lawyer turned wartime naval intelligence officer, and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen), another espionage officer, are the architects behind the plan, with a little help from the roguish Fleming.

They have to defy the skepticism and hostility of their commanding officer (Jason Isaacs) and win over Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Simon Russell Beale). The plan is so far-fetched that it tickles her imagination. Also, you need it to function.

Ewen and Charles develop very strong feelings for Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald), the widowed MI5 secretary who joins their team and happens to share her natural talent for subterfuge.

Both men have troubled backgrounds: Ewen is going through a rough patch in his marriage; Charles has been turned down for active duty due to poor eyesight and foot problems and lives in the shadow of his war hero’s brother who was recently killed in action. As they devise a backstory, complete with a love story, for his corpse, they invest their own feelings in him and compete for Jean’s affections.

It’s hard not to admire the old-fashioned craftsmanship with which Madden and his team have put the film together or the way Michelle Ashford’s script brings tension, nuance and depth to what is actually a completely predictable story.

Wartime London has been painstakingly recreated, and the performances are poignant and strong: Ewen is another of the Firth’s brooding English heroes, a selfless and decent figure, distrustful of his own emotions; Macfadyen’s Charles is a complex and conflicted figure, prey to jealousy and capable of duplicity, but he shares Montagu’s patriotism and quiet heroism.

What the film lacks, however, is a real sense of dramatic upheaval or surprise. In essence, this is the story behind the creation of a particularly elaborate prank.

Operation Mincemeat, as the scheme is dubbed, will either work or it won’t. Once the plan has been devised and the body has been dumped into the sea, there is little the men can do but wait for the Nazis to take the bait. The film, then, can’t help but end on a strangely subdued and anticlimactic note.

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Operation Mincemeat Review: This Wartime Adventure Proves Colin Firth Is Cinema’s Most Reliable Everyday Hero – Home