Review: THE OPERATIVE Is A Mostly By-The-Book Spy Thriller With A Twist

FIRST IMPRESSION

The Operative is the rare female-led spy movie, and it is refreshing as such, but it does precious little else to deviate from the formula of the genre.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

The Operative, written and directed by Yuval Adler, is a new spy-thriller film that is elevated by its wonderful cast. Based on the novel The English Teacher by Yiftach Reicher-Atir, this is a relatively by-the-book spy thriller, although it does have a surprising amount of relevance to today’s society.

The movie is about a foreign woman who is recruited by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, to work undercover in Iran. There’s some double-crossing, a few intense action sequences, and some steamy romance scenes, and while it is refreshing to see a female spy doing all of these things for a change, you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen this story before.

Perhaps the film’s fatal flaw is that it chose to take a nonlinear approach to the story. The narrative is framed through the protagonist’s handler, relaying her experiences secondhand during an investigation. However, this draws you out of the story in two ways. For one, the handler wasn’t with her for every second of the story, so it creates a credibility gap. Furthermore, it simply causes the story to feel choppy and poorly-paced.

It’s really a shame that the script is so messy because there are some interesting themes on which the movie attempts to provide commentary. One of the core ideas that is explored in the film is loyalty. Both of the lead characters are not Israeli-born, and as such, there is some paranoia regarding their loyalty to the agency. Had the filmmakers taken this theme and ran with it, the movie would have been much better as a whole.

the operative walk

Also disappointing is the film’s lackluster character development. There is a significant problem with a movie when the protagonist is far less interesting than the narrator. More often than not, you are more interested in the handler’s story than the actual agent’s. For obvious reasons, this isn’t a particularly good thing for a spy film. If you don’t really care about the spy, you can’t truly believe the stakes.

The main saving grace for this movie is its phenomenal cast. Diane Kruger does an excellent job in her leading role. Granted, this isn’t her most complex work, but she does a good job kicking butt and taking names. Getting to watch her as a spy makes it worth the two hours and rental fee. Martin Freeman also gives a solid performance as her handler. Although he isn’t given a lot to do, he has great chemistry with Kruger and the rest of the ensemble.

The film is pretty solid on a technical level too. The style of the movie is mostly conventional, but it is also mostly effective. Adler does a great job of building suspense throughout despite the generic feeling of the story, especially in scenes shot in close quarters. There is one scene in particular, taking place in a truck, that will almost certainly have you on the edge of your seat.

The Operative doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table apart from being a female-led spy film. That said, it is mostly entertaining for its two-hour runtime and the cast does a great job. This isn’t one you need to rush out to see, but it is worth a watch.

The Operative is now in theaters and on VOD.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

Hillary (Official) Trailer • A Hulu Original Documentary

A remarkably intimate portrait of a public woman, Hillary interweaves revealing moments from never-before-seen 2016 campaign footage with biographical chapters of her life. Featuring exclusive interviews with Hillary Rodham Clinton herself, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, friends and journalists, the series examines how she became at once one of the most admired and vilified women in…

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow | Time Is Weird | Season Trailer | The CW

DC's Legends of Tomorrow premieres Tuesday, January 21. Stream free next day only on The CW App! SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW: The Legends continue their new mission to protect the timeline from temporal aberrations - unusual changes to history that spawn potentially catastrophic consequences. When Nate, the grandson of J.S.A. member Commander…

A Fall From Grace’s Bresha Webb | The First Thing I Do | Netflix

Bresha Webb, star of Tyler Perry's new thriller A Fall From Grace, shared the first thing she does when she wakes up the morning.. when she looks at her phone.. and so much more. Watch A Fall From Grace, Only on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81127902 SUBSCRIBE: https://bit.ly/29qBUt7 About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading internet entertainment service…

Locke & Key | From Comic to Screen | Netflix

Locke and Key co-creators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez— join showrunners Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill — to talk about the graphic novels' journey from comic to screen. Locke and Key debuts on Netflix on February 7. Watch Locke & Key, Only on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80236127 SUBSCRIBE: https://bit.ly/29qBUt7 About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming…

Batwoman | Season 1 Episode 11 | An Un-birthday Present Promo | The CW

Watch new episodes on Sunday and stream Batwoman from the beginning, free only on The CW app: https://go.cwtv.com/BATgenyt SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About BATWOMAN: Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) soars through the shadowed streets of Gotham as Batwoman. But don’t call her a hero yet. In a city desperate for a savior, she must first overcome her own…

Crisis on Infinite Earths | Over-length | Season Trailer | The CW

Stream the 5-episode crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths, free only on The CW App! SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About The CW: Official YouTube Channel for The CW Network featuring the hit series Riverdale, as well as Black Lightning, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supernatural, The 100, Dynasty, In the Dark, and Roswell, New Mexico.…

The Flash | Season 6 Episode 10 | Marathon Promo | The CW

Stream new episodes of The Flash Wednesdays, free only on The CW App: http://go.cwtv.com/genFLAyt SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About THE FLASH: Based on characters from DC's The Flash. After the S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator explosion, a dark matter lightning storm strikes Central City C.S.I. Barry Allen, bestowing him with super-human speed. For now, only a few close…
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here