Operation Mincemeat, is not an animation, but a straight forward, almost romantic depiction of a WWII covert operation, the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, that began the downfall of Adolph Hitler. Churchill, having chased Rommel from N. Africa, now could pick Sicily or Greece to invade, and the Germans were fooled into thinking it would be Greece. By the way, that little plot saved tens of thousands of lives along the way.
While bombs and intrigues are war’s reality, this enjoyable Netflix docudrama is all about deception, mainly the Allies deceiving, through the use of a dead body, the Nazis into thinking they were invading Europe through Greece. The “hidden war” is the clandestine actions of a small British unit dedicated to the biggest case of fake news in WWII.
Operation Mincemeat, by virtue of its name, could have appeared silly to serious Nazi operatives, but it did fool them. The film avoids the German point of view while it concentrates on the challenges of faking a real body, stashing real documents on him that wouldn’t decay in sea water, and dropping him in a place where it would be easily found.
These intriguing choices are equaled by the challenges facing the Brits such as who in the chain of command should know about Operation Mincemeat, besides Churchill, figuring that spies are working among them. Perhaps just as domestically dangerous is the triangle developing between top dog, Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen), and new recruit, Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald). That soap opera bogs the film down when so many nuts and bolts of such a delicate operation could be attended to. Yet, war exists on all levels, even the personal.
Along the way, one narrator, Ian Fleming (a jaunty Johnny Flynn), has some pre-James Bond wry comments about the proceedings. He does presage Bond by calling two fellow conspirators “Q” and “M.” He is one of several writers to mine the heroics for his fiction. A nice touch for those of us who revere Fleming and Bond.
Operation Mincemeat is a detailed exposition of one of history’s greatest deceptions. A quiet Netflix night with cognac and chips is just the ticket to marvel at the ingenuity of the Brits and their gambling Prime Minister. Add a super cast, spot-on writing, and a director who has depicted romance and deception and you will have your own victory at home.
Director: John Madden (Shakespeare in Love)
Screenplay: Michelle Ashford (Cat Person) from Ben Macintyre book
Cast: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Run Time: 2h 8m
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take out of WCBE 90.5 FM. Contact him at JohnDeSando52@gmail.com