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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Operation Minsmeat

Colin Firth and Matthew McFadden team up to thwart a Nazi plot in this likable World War Two caper film.

DDuring my formative years, before the harmful allure of cinema affected my pure soul and later tarnished my pure soul, I was a proud member of the Scout Association. Every Friday evening, I would put on my badge-strewn fake-camo uniform, dash to the dilapidated hut at the end of my street, and play what can only be described as healthy outdoor-y monkeys, and play British Bulldogs. .

One of our Scout leaders was ex-military, wore aviator shades all the time and bore a strange resemblance to Walter from The Big Lebowski (and, by extension, gun-savvy writer/director John Milius). Often, in quiet periods, usually when we were consuming our tucks, he gathered us—like a master storyteller—telling Richard Attenborough’s 1977 feature, A Bridge Too Far, about a failed Allied maneuver invited to be. This involved strategically taking various bridges in the Netherlands during World War II. When he reached the tragic climax, he would often fall silent and burst into tears. We’ll play some more British Bulldogs then.

I can’t help but feel that today’s like-minded Scout leaders will find great satisfaction in hearing the story of Operation Minesmeat, a long-standing government escape by a Navy intelligence officer and an RAF flight lieutenant, Which was placed second in MI5 to trick Hitler’s Germany into thinking that an Allied landing party would arrive in Greece instead of Sicily. It has now been made into a fully serviceable period thriller starring Colin Firth, as the puffy-chested Navy officer and told by Matthew McFadden, the bookish RAF pilot who turns out to be a dead Welshman, a cache of fake papers, and more. All possible Germans are included. naive

It’s all put together with the skill of old hand John Madden, and the ticking-clock essence of the moves bundles the story with a lot of tension (even if you know the consequences). There’s a love interest in the mix in the form of Kelly Macdonald, a doe-eyed secretary widowed by war, and for whom both men have some shine. There’s good value Jason Isaacs as Admiral John Godfrey, an already bureaucratic overseer whose arm is forced to launch this operation and who secretly hopes it will fall. A pantoming Simon Russell Beale is a sub-par Churchill among the phalanxes of the sub-par screen Churchill of Yours.

It’s a model of old school screen storytelling, where strong individual elements are summed up in the exact sum of their parts and by no means an ounce. There’s an intriguing metatext when it comes to the cinematic notion of building a man from a rotting corpse with history and emotion and hope that working class people will buy it, but the film is far more interested in making sure that all the elements fit together.

Even the isolated title makes a lot more sense when you get to know what these people were actually doing. Then, when it’s all done, you’ll be out the door in a jiffy and may crave a quick round of British Bulldogs.

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