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

Next on Episode 2 | On Becoming a God in Central Florida | SHOWTIME

Krystal networks her way into an opportunity in the beauty pageant industry. Cody (Théodore Pellerin) tries to be his own workhorse. Ernie (Mel Rodriguez) builds a time capsule. Starring Kirsten Dunst. Premieres Sunday, August 25th at 10/9c on SHOWTIME. #OnBecomingAGod Subscribe to the Showtime channel for more clips: http://goo.gl/esCMib Don’t have SHOWTIME? Order now: http://s.sho.com/1HbTNpQ…

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Oakland Raiders (Episode 3 Clip) | HBO

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Oakland Raiders gives an unfiltered all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League. The 14th edition of the 18-time Sports Emmy Award winning series follows head coach Jon Gruden leading a mix of established veterans, free-agent additions and highly regarded rookie hopefuls throughout…

Pose | Season 2 Ep. 10: Angel Proposes to Papi Highlight | FX

These are happy tears...these are happy tears #PoseFX Season 2 is available on FXNOW. Subscribe now for more Pose clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Season 2 of Pose flashes forward in time to 1990. On the heels of the ballroom community establishing itself in pop culture and going mainstream, the House of Evangelista is forced to reevaluate their…

Mr Inbetween | Season 2: Career Day Preview | FX

He has a way with kids. Mr Inbetween is back 9/12 on FX. Subscribe now for more Mr Inbetween clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Mr. Inbetween is an FX original comedy series created by and starring Scott Ryan as Ray Shoesmith – a father, ex-husband, boyfriend and best friend. Tough roles to juggle in the modern age. Even…

Sneak Peek | Fear the Walking Dead | Ep. 511

A new survivor reaches out to Victor and Alicia, but they're unsure whether to trust him. Don’t miss the next episode of Fear the Walking Dead, Sunday, August 25 at 9/8c. #FearTWD #FeartheWalkingDead For more Fear the Walking Dead videos: https://goo.gl/P1AXdM Subscribe to the AMC YouTube Channel : https://goo.gl/Tu5rSx Fear the Walking Dead: https://goo.gl/CMLr9K Sign…

Next on the Series Premiere | On Becoming a God in Central Florida | SHOWTIME

Krystal Stubbs doubles down on her husband's dreams while he wrestles with leaving his J-O-B. Cody (Théodore Pellerin) loses a friend, but meets his hero. Starring Kirsten Dunst. Premieres Sunday, August 25th at 10/9c on SHOWTIME. #OnBecomingAGod Subscribe to the Showtime channel for more clips: http://goo.gl/esCMib Don’t have SHOWTIME? Order now: http://s.sho.com/1HbTNpQ Get SHOWTIME merchandise…

Supernatural’s Final #CWSDCC | The CW

Stream Supernatural FREE on The CW App: http://go.cwtv.com/genSPNyt SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About SUPERNATURAL: The thrilling and terrifying journey of the Winchester brothers continues as SUPERNATURAL enters its thirteenth season. Sam and Dean have spent their lives on the road, battling supernatural threats that include everything from the demon that killed their mother to the usual vampires,…
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