Operation Mincemeat review
There’s a nostalgic surfeit of WWII movies showing honourable British gents saving the world from the Nazis. Maybe this cinematic notion of nice, strapping men – sporting beautiful suits and good manners – indulges fantasies that Brits love to tell themselves. But their proud display in John Madden’s period spy drama Operation Mincemeat is charming nonetheless.
Colin Firth leads the cast as Lieutenant Ewen Montagu, who in real life oversaw one of the greatest deceptions during the war. The titular operation supposedly led the Nazis to believe the British were invading Greece and not their intended target, Sicily. With a predictably starry ensemble that includes a meticulous, scene-stealing Matthew Macfadyen, an assertive Kelly Macdonald, and a suavely literate Johnny Flynn as James Bond author Ian Fleming, this hushed tale of espionage is enjoyably elaborate to watch unfold.
The plan is to unload a dead body that’s carrying false information about the apparent attack on Greece, as well as items pertaining to a fictionalised backstory – ostensibly for a soldier. The strongest moments of the film are when the gang get together in a fancy London club and brainstorm this character, creating history, drama and a love interest.
This becomes entangled in a superfluous love triangle between Macdonald, Firth and Macfadyen – a contrived schism, which is probably as fabricated as their unreal soldier. But it’s a fun little B-story to enjoy while the intelligent mechanics of this bizarre operation become too complex to follow. Why did Madden and screenwriter Michelle Ashford choose this more clichéd path instead of explaining the more difficult parts of the plot?
Operation Mincemeat is slightly
too long and the script needed more laughs – especially between the comedically
gifted Firth and Macfadyen – but it’s nice a way to spend a dozy afternoon, if
you don’t mind the occasional corpse washing up.