Film review: Operation Mincemeat
Star-studded war film about a real-life mission to fool the Nazis
This tale of wartime derring-do is the sort of film to watch “with your dad on a Sunday afternoon, before or after Ice Cold in Alex”, said Deborah Ross in The Spectator. Based on a book by Ben Macintyre, it recounts a British operation to conceal the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen star as the two intelligence officers who led the mission, which involved obtaining the corpse of a Welsh man, putting it into the uniform of a Royal Marine, loading it with bogus “top secret” papers about a planned invasion of Greece, and dropping it in the Mediterranean. Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), and starring not one but two Mr Darcys, the film is well performed and “highly enjoyable”.
This is a well crafted, “handsomely mounted” film, which painstakingly recreates the look and feel of wartime London, said Geoffrey Macnab in The i Paper. The acting, too, is “heartfelt and strong”; aside from the two leads, we also have Simon Russell Beale as Churchill, Johnny Flynn as the young naval officer Ian Fleming (“a few years away from writing his first Bond novels”), and Kelly Macdonald, who features in a romantic subplot. “What the film lacks, though, is any real sense of dramatic upheaval or surprise.” In essence, this is the story of an “elaborate prank”, and once the officers have dropped the decoy body into the sea, they have little to do but “wait for the Nazis to take the bait”.
Madden had a huge amount to cover in a two-hour film, said Tim Robey in The Daily Telegraph, and the pacing is a little off, with drowsy sections in the middle, a rushed third act and an awful lot of exposition along the way. It’s a pity: it’s watchable, but could have been done better.