Wednesday, April 24, 2024

“OPERATION NAPOLEON”

THE STORY – A lawyer sucked into an international conspiracy after being accused of a murder she didn’t commit. The only chance of survival lies in uncovering the secret of an old German World War II airplane, discovered on Iceland’s largest glacier.

THE CAST – Vivian Ólafsdóttir, Jack Fox, Iain Glenn, Atli Óskar Fjalarsson, & Ólafur Darri Ólafsson

THE TEAM – Óskar Thór Axelsson (Director) & Marteinn Thorisson (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 102 Minutes


Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy? Everyone in life has heard some peculiar theory or mystery that could actually be true. It doesn’t even matter what the topic is, whether it comes to celebrity gossip, sports, etc. It’s not shocking that some of the most popular films have conspiracies essential to their story’s essence. Whether it is a political thriller such as “The Manchurian Candidate” or a globe-trotting adventure like “Raiders of The Lost Ark,” a mystery can engage audiences so long as they’re done right. Although there is plenty from the source material to adapt, Óskar Thór Axelsson’s adaptation of “Operation Napoleon” misses the mark when it comes to delivering an entertaining and satisfying conspiracy thriller.

“Operation Napoleon” follows Kristen (played by Vivian Ólafsdóttir), a young Icelandic lawyer with a relatively ordinary life. She’s excellent at her job, lives in a lovely apartment, and has a great relationship with her brother Elías (played by Atli Óskar Fjalarsson). That is until one day when Elías stumbles upon a World War II airplane while on an incursion on the Icelandic icecap of Vatnajökull. The discovery of this aircraft contains secrets from the war that have been buried deep for over seventy years. As higher powers attempt to retrieve Elías, he inadvertently involves Kristen in a deep conspiracy that wants to be kept in the shadows. Now on the run with the help of a previous flame named Steve (played by Jack Fox), Kristen must discover the truth about Operation Napoleon and find a way to save her brother. Everything else in the film is relatively standard, as “Operation Napoleon” is an incredibly generic conspiracy thriller that fails to live up to the exciting concept it is based on. Having no experience with the novel it is adapting, the film exudes the energy of a cheap airport novel at the highest level, and not in the fun, over-the-top manner. Most of the ensemble’s performances are nothing of note, despite Ólafsdóttir trying her best to carry the film. A character named Einar (played by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) gives the most enjoyable performance of the bunch, and some of the film’s better (albeit few) action sequences involving him do somewhat deliver. However, Iain Glenn is underutilized, which is a shame because we all know from his work on “Game of Thrones” and other projects what he could bring to the table. William Carr (Glenn) and the rest of the antagonists Kristen encounters throughout the film are either one-dimensional or just all-around uncompelling. By the time the truth of Operation Napoleon is revealed halfway through the film, viewers will be already checked out.

Axelsson’s direction is absurdly conventional in almost every way. The action sequences are not staged particularly well and fail to be even mildly entertaining. It is a shame because there are some fantastic sequences that capture the beautiful scenery of the glaciers in Iceland. It is always a shame when a film shoots in real practical locations and never fully utilizes the surroundings around them. It is the only aspect of “Operation Napoleon” that gives the story a sense of scale before it goes back to treading familiar waters. Speaking of things that do not work, Ólafsdóttir and Fox have very little to no chemistry with one another. Their dynamic is a significant aspect of the film, as they have to rely on each other to keep each other out of harm’s way. It doesn’t help Axelsson that the screenplay’s dialogue is overwhelmingly bland. The plot overall feels as if it is held together by strings. Kristen and Steve are dragged mindlessly from location to location because the story demands it. It’s overly repetitive as they go to a location, learn a bit more about the conspiracy at hand, and then run away from those trying to stop them. The exposition delivered is constant and monotonous throughout “Operation Napoleon.” It’s very easy to be unengaged with the material as the film is frankly not that compelling on most levels.

On paper, “Operation Napoleon” has a lot going for it; A conspiracy based on secrets from one of the most important moments of world history that could potentially change how the past is perceived with an ordinary but capable woman on the run, entangled in a plot far larger than she could ever imagine. In the right hands, this adaptation could’ve been a slam dunk. Instead, it will likely be something you can catch on the SyFy network at two in the morning on a Saturday. Reading the novel is likely a more rewarding experience for those still interested in this story.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - A few solid performances from Vivian Ólafsdóttir and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and gorgeous scenic shots of the Icelandic glaciers.

THE BAD - An extremely unengaging and overly repetitive story isn't helped by its stale direction. For the most part, every aspect of the film is generic and fails to grab the audience's attention.

THE OSCARS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 3/10

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Giovanni Lago
Giovanni Lago
Devoted believer in all things cinema and television. Awards Season obsessive and aspiring filmmaker.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>A few solid performances from Vivian Ólafsdóttir and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and gorgeous scenic shots of the Icelandic glaciers.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>An extremely unengaging and overly repetitive story isn't helped by its stale direction. For the most part, every aspect of the film is generic and fails to grab the audience's attention.<br><br> <b>THE OSCARS - </b>None <br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>3/10<br><br>"OPERATION NAPOLEON"