”Operation Mincemeat” is a well-acted and well-written war drama. At its center is an unlikely story that, fascinatingly, is based on a real event.
”Operation Mincemeat” takes us back to the height of the Second World War in 1943, when most of Europe still remains under the control of Hitler’s Nazi Reich. The allies plan to begin breaking up Hitler’s hold on Europe by launching an attack on Sicily. The only problem is that the German Army will be expecting an attack there. Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen), two British naval intelligence officers, conceive a clever plan involving a dead body carrying false documents to fool the Germans into believing that the allied invasion will take place in Greece.
”Operation Mincemeat” proves to be an engaging watch from the very start, not least because the bizarreness of its subject matter. This actually happened. There is something incredibly entertaining in seeing two British intelligence officers roaming London in search of a corpse, with the secrecy of the plan many times preventing them from explaining to the bewildered morticians and coroners why they want to obtain a dead body. But, fascinatingly, the film also reminds us that in wartime, there are always two wars; the highly visible, conventional one, fought with guns, bombs and troop movements; but also the rarely seen, invisible war, involving intelligence, spies and deception. And sometimes, the invisible war can turn the tide of the conventional one.
Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen’s acting performances are solid. Opposite them is, among others, Kelly Macdonald as Jean, a widowed secretary. The film makes sure to keep viewers engaged even outside the central plot. A love triangle develops between the three, causing a rift. Cholmondeley (Macfadyen) is torn between loyalty to his friend Montagu and their superior Godfrey (Jason Isaacs) when the latter asks him to spy on Montagu, as he suspects Montagu’s brother to be a Soviet spy.
”Operation Mincemeat” remains very strong throughout, with ever-growing tension as the two British intelligence officers’ ingenious plan is put to work, setting the stage for nail-biting tension and drama, before moving to a moving conclusion. The film is a fascinating deep dive into one of the most bizarre instances of military deception in history, and how sometimes the hidden war can turn the tide of the conventional one.