starring: colin firth, matthew macfadyen, kelly macdonald, and penelope wilton
REVIEWER: lyall carter
During WWII, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops.
It’s 1943. The Allies are determined to break Hitler’s grip on occupied Europe, and plan to launch an all-out assault on Sicily; but they face an impossible challenge - how to protect the invasion force from potential annihilation. It falls to two remarkable intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen) to dream the most inspired and improbable disinformation strategy of the war - centred on the most unlikely of secret agents: a dead man.
From the outset I must confess that I’m a sucker for all things WWII. The tales of heroism in the face of overwhelming odds, the scale of the war, and the unsung, ordinary men and women who were a part of it have always fascinated and enthralled me. Operation Mincemeat is one such tale that is so far fetched that you have to keep reminding yourself that it isn't some imaginings of a spy novelist but that it is indeed a true story.
Narrated by one of the intelligence officers involved in the espionage plot, a certain Ian Flemming, the story of Operation Mincemeat is the audacity of the plan of deception the British seek to play on the Nazi's and the many minute details that all must come together for it to succeed. From the length of decay of the corpse that must play the role of the secret agent to the creation of his backstory to the sea tides and the various officials that are beyond the control of the intelligence team trying to pull it all together the impossibility of the task seems unsurmountable. The whole plan is on a knife edge with the always present danger that should one small detail fall through the whole plan will be scuppered and thousands of lives put at real risk.
But it's more than just the story of subterfuge that pulls you deeply into the story. It’s the lives of the intelligence team pulling it all together that is the beating heart of the tale. The depths of the character development makes for more richer characters and as a result a richer film.
The production design is some of the best that I’ve seen this year. From the Blitz stricken streets of London to the drab, shadowy operations headquarters of British agents and the sunlit shores of Spain every meticulous detail of the production detail transports you straight back to that time.
Operation Mincemeat has one of the best ensemble casts splashed across the silver screen this year. It’s a who’s who of British acting talent with the added distinction of having two Mr. Darcy’s on the screen at the same time as well. Paul Ritter's portrayal of Bentley Purchase in his last role is bittersweet in light of him passing away in 2021. Colin Firth commands the screen at every turn coupled with an emotional depth that simmers just below the surface. Matthew Macfadyen is equally superb in an understated performance but with a beating heart that pulls at the heart strings at exactly the right moments.
A thrilling tale of WWII espionage, Operation Mincemeat will have you on the edge of your seat with the best ensemble cast superbly lead by Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen. One of 2022’s best.