Adolf Eichmann (Kretschmann) was a high-ranking officer in the Third Reich who personally oversaw the deportation of Eastern European Jews to concentration camps. Robert Young's docudrama picks up the action in 1960, after the Nazi was finally abducted in Argentina and deported to Israel to stand trial. Over the course of several months, officer Avner Less (Garity) interrogates the impassive Eichmann about his culpability in mass murder, angling for a confession that can ensure his prosecution---and the war criminal's execution.
Hannah Arendt famously concluded her coverage of Eichmann's trial (which the film doesn't depict) by speaking of a "banality of evil," the morally unsettling realization that such heinous crimes could be committed by a career-minded bureaucrat. Critics have long rejected this notion, fixing instead on the catchphrase while ignoring Arendt's ultimately damning portrait; director Robert Young and writer Snoo Wilson repeat that mistake by characterizing him as an everyman whose owlish anonymity is a thin disguise for slithering devilishness. It's a dramatically convenient tack, allowing the filmmakers to avoid all nuance in favor of a ludicrous, Silence of the Lambs--esque serial-killer standoff, with digressions into crime-thriller and Tinto Brass-style soft-core territories. The movie's twitchy, diabolical monster is neither persuasive nor historically tenable, and unlike Arendt's Eichmann, he's far too easy to dismiss.
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