Operation Mincemeat – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton and Johnny Flynn. Directed by John Madden. Written by Michelle Ashford and Ben Macintyre. Length: 128mins

Operation Mincemeat was the bizarre real-life scheme cooked up by British intelligence in 1943 to fool Nazi Germany into thinking the allies planned to invade Greece, rather than their actual target, Sicily. The corpse of a tramp was dressed up as fictitious “Capt William Martin” and carried elaborate plans for this nonexistent invasion; the body was dumped into the sea so that it would wash up in Spain where the British were confident this incorrect intelligence would be passed to the Germans. It sounds as if it was written with a screenplay in mind, but the fact that this is based on real events makes gives this film a different feel. Had the plot been fictitious, I’m not sure people would necessarily be on board, but a glimpse into this bizarre piece of history that played a role in the outcome on the war is truly fascinating. 

Adapted from the non-fiction best seller by Ben Macintyre, the plot takes us steadily from the birth of the idea, through all sorts of ‘phases’ of the operation and right up to the suspense filled moment of finding out whether it was successful or not. As I understand, this isn’t the first film re-telling of the story, however the fact that the corpses real name was only revealed to the public in 1996 allowed the filmmakers to include a more personable approach with regards to he who was known, simply, as ‘The Man Who Never Was’. 

This movie was funnier than I expected it to be, which made a real difference to me as a member of the audience. I was intrigued and excited to learn more about a situation I only knew small amounts about, but to be honest, I was expecting quite a heavy, suspense filled piece. While, of course, there were brilliant moments of that suspense; built with a great score and really authentic performances by the two leading men – the fact that there were moments of humour mixed in throughout just brought the mood up enough to keep things interesting and me engaged. 

As a James Bond fan I particularly enjoyed the involvement of the character Ian Fleming. Of course he was actually involved in the planning of the operation, I don’t mean to belittle his importance in the actual history of the event, but the film gave us plenty of little Bond Easter eggs that I have no idea if they actually happened, but I like the idea that his novels were inspired by that which he had seen. Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen didn’t put a foot wrong, both managed to play likeable but imperfect characters, and lets be honest, any Pride and Prejudice fans will be delighted to see both contemporary ‘Mr Darcy’s’ sharing the screen. 

This is another of the home front wartime ‘Brit-films’ that we’ve seen plenty of in recent years. Focussing their emphasis on domestic morale, strategic questions and political shenanigans, rather than battlefield action. Operation Mincemeat is watchable enough, but certainly not the best ‘war film’ i’ve seen. It’s a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, but not a must watch. 

One Comment

  1. John Madden’s remake of Operation Mincemeat and Ben Macintyre’s novel make for great viewing and reading. The Madden film is based on Macintyre’s novel, and they are both a fake news aficionado’s paradise when it comes to trying to differentiate layer after layer of fact and fiction. Nevertheless, as with many war or espionage thrillers like the Ipcress File it’s a shame the film industry is producing yet more remakes. If success is to breed success the film industry must not polish old gems but mine for new ones. In these genres, examples of such new gems include Mick Herron’s Slow Horses from the Slough House stable and Beyond Enkription, the first fact based spy thriller in The Burlington Files series by Bill Fairclough. The celluloid adaptation of Slow Horses looks destined to become an anti-Bond classic. As for The Burlington Files let’s hope the film industry hears of it. Not being a remake this enigmatic and elusive thriller may have eluded you.

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