The Operative (Die Agentin)
On the off chance that The Operative accurately portrays the standard Mossad recruitment process, then the Israeli intelligence agency might want to consider giving their human resources department a stern talking to. Diane Kruger is Rachel, a British-born woman recruited to spy for Israel, with Martin Freeman as Thomas, her handler and unenthusiastic confidante. All is not what it seems, which is admittedly what an audience is likely to expect from a spy movie.
Rachel’s loyalties and backstory are in a constant state of evolution. She’s ordered to make contact with an Iranian businessman (Cas Anvar), who Israel hopes to use as a means to supply Iran with defective nuclear technology. Enthusiastic employee that she is, she quickly parlays this contact into copulation. Does the agent really cynically seduce him to achieve her objectives, or has her mission become compromised by authentic feelings? The duality of her character makes this difficult to determine, as does a regrettable lack of chemistry between Kruger and Anvar. As far and suspense and thrills go, well… they went to another film.
It could conceivably be refreshing to see a spy movie without a sexed-up plot, and yet by mostly avoiding the generic action setpieces associated with cinematic espionage, and without becoming cerebral enough to work as a commentary on the ideology of deception, The Operative is heavy on exotic locations, but mostly resides in bland town. The feature is engaging enough, but fumbles as it strives for depth.
In the lead role, Kruger does what she can with the uneven material, although it’s difficult to believe that an agent would furtively look over their shoulder quite so often. It’s pointed out that Rachel’s vagabond history is part of what makes her an ideal operative. There might be some truth to this, but it sure doesn’t result in an ideal spy story.
The Operative (Die Agentin) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
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Watch a clip from The Operative (Die Agentin) here: