Director: John Madden
Writer: Michelle Ashford
Starring: Colin Firth, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen, Penelope Wilton, Jonny Flynn, and Jason Isaacs
Operation Mincemeat, which is written by Michelle Ashford and directed by John Madden, tells the true story of the secret mission to deceive Hitler into believing that Allied forces were planning to invade Greece, while they were actually planning to invade Sicily. By convincing Hitler of the fake plans, it would mean less resistance in the actual invasion.
Colin Firth is excellent as Ewen Montagu, a judge turned intelligence officer, who leads the operation, along with Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen). Together they develop the plan, and then take the corpse of a homeless person in order to float the body with fake documents to the coast of Spain in order for German spies to discover and report the documents with the evidence of the Greece invasion. They enlist Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald), who helps them develop an imaginary life for the body, so it can hold up to scrutiny from German spies.
The actual story is interesting to learn about, and the film does a good job at explaining what happened. The cast are all great, with all the characters feeling realistic and natural. They feel very authentic, as does the sets and costumes. It’s easy to get completely absorbed into the story. Just thinking that it worked is amazing enough, especially with how unbelievable the story is at first. It does a really good job at creating tension throughout the story, even though we all know the ending going in.
Jonny Flynn, who plays Ian Fleming, stands out, giving a more exaggerated, almost comedic, performance than everyone else. Most of his moments seem to be there as a wink to the audience for writing James Bond after the war, rather than his involvement with the operation. He mentions ‘M’, which is his own codeword for John Godfrey (Jason Isaacs), as well as mentioning novels at any moment. He even states that he’s writing a spy story at one point.
Being a dramatized version of actual events, there’s a really forced love triangle between Ewen, Charles and Jean. Ewen and Jean connect quickly, which causes a lot of jealousy from Charles. A lot of the film is focused on this, which just feels a little strange. The actual operation goes quite smoothly, with very little issues, so it feels like as interesting as the story is, there just isn’t enough there for a full-length story, so there’s a bit of padding through sub-plots. Ewen’s brother is under suspicion of being a communist sympathiser and Russian spy, while Charles is trying to get the body of his own brother back home to be buried. It may be called Operation Mincemeat, but there’s just as much time spent with the subplots. Thankfully, the film is engaging throughout and the subplots don’t feel like baggage but more just building up the main people who were involved with the operation.
With a great cast, great direction, and an interesting piece of history, Operation Mincemeat is a really entertaining film. If you’re interested in history, especially of World War II, then this is worth watching.
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