The tale of the spy who got in too deep and let their emotions best them is one as old as the spy thriller genre. While there have been fun twists on that trope, unfortunately The Operative doesn’t bring anything new or fresh to the table – other than some baffling narrative decisionsThe strangest of these might be the one to distance us from Diane Kruger’s Mossad operative, ‘Rachel’, from the start, then expecting us to empathise when the film shifts to her point of view. The film is framed in flashback, filling us in on Rachel’s backstory from the point of view of her handler, Thomas (Freeman), with whom she had a close relationship. But the film never lets us feel that – every detail is spoon-fed to us during intermittent narrations from Thomas (“she never had a place to belong”, he warns us early on). Mossad’s motives are kept vague, as we focus on the small tasks that Rachel completes in Tehran on their behalf with no glimpse at the bigger picture.

The film is at its strongest during a tense set piece, or when it’s contrasting the violence of Rachel’s employers against her enjoyment of her cover identity, but these moments are few and far between. When the time does come for Rachel’s emotions to conflict with her duty, the moment feels cliched. It’s not helped that the film’s palette is as dreary as its dialogue, a never-ending onslaught of washed-out greys and browns, with little action or emotiveness to counter it.

As another entry in the “dubious ethics in Mossad espionage” canon, The Operative fails to present either interesting intrigue or emotion, leaving only bland formalities and one or two solid set pieces. 



CAST: Diane Kruger, Martin Freeman, Cas Anvar, Werner Daehn, Liron Levo, Hadi Khanjanpour, Maria Gnecchi, Erez Ben-Ezra, Julia Schneider, Daniel Wandelt

DIRECTOR: Yuval Adler

WRITER: Yuval Adler

SYNOPSIS: An espionage thriller about a Mossad agent operating undercover in Tehran.