Based on both the real-life World War II deception operation and Ben Macintyre’s book inspired by the events, Operation Mincemeat follows the efforts of intelligence officers Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfayden) as they work to conceal the Allied invasion of Sicily from the Nazis by planting fake documents on a corpse. To pull this elaborate plan off, the intelligence officers must navigate the murky and dangerous world of espionage, where threats lurk behind every corner and everyone is hiding something.
It’s a straightforward but interesting spy story, making the most of its two-hour runtime to explore the complexity of the operation, and its world of secrecy and deceit, in great detail. There’s a lot of storytelling ground to cover, but there’s a good balance between character exploration and political thrills. The movie also works hard to ensure there’s constantly something new onscreen, despite its laser focus on the titular operation – be it a new set piece or a development in character dynamics – keeping the cinematic experience fresh and compelling throughout.
The only significant problem with the story is the inclusion of a tiresome love triangle subplot involving Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald). This part of the film seemingly exists to escalate tension between Montagu and Cholmondeley but is too dull to successfully do so. It often hinders the narrative more than it helps, bringing the momentum of the piece to a screeching halt every time it features.
The generally strong script is helped further by a talented cast, who work to heighten the drama and even salvage the tedious romance segments. Firth and Macfayden have great chemistry as Montagu and Cholmondeley, effortlessly switching between comedic double-act and tense drama. And although her character arc is largely bogged down by the love triangle, Macdonald also puts in a great performance as Jean, making the best of a rough narrative situation with strong, emotive acting.
Overall, while it’s let down by some parts of its script, Operation Mincemeat is entertaining enough, not bringing anything groundbreaking to the table but telling a fun, simple tale with style and a flair for the dramatic. It doesn’t stick the landing on every piece of its narrative, but for the most part, it’s a very entertaining and engaging spy flick that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Operation Mincemeat is released nationwide on 15th March 2022.
Watch the trailer for Operation Mincemeat here: