Telling a war story from behind a desk is always going to be one that’s hard to make entertaining on screen. Operation Mincemeat is a lot more like The Courier in the sense that it tells an interesting spy story with high stakes but set in an area that is far less cinematic than being on the field. 

Warner Bros.

Operation Mincemeat often feels like it’s trying to be a heist film. A great amount of the film is dedicated to setting up the titular deception and every character has their role within the group. The film also has a lot of segments where the plan is unfolding while at the same time it’s being narrated by those who planned it explaining what they’ve put together. It’s these parts of the film that are the most interesting; all of the parts coming together, all the characters working things and going through the nitty gritty of spy craft is fascinating. Plus there’s also a good amount of tension. Unlike a heist film, where the stakes are whether or not the criminals are going to get their money, this film’s plot could have dramatic consequences for the whole world. 

However, the film doesn’t have enough of these parts for it to be completely enthralling. The most egregious distraction to the main plot is a love triangle involving Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen and Kelly MacDonald’s characters. The chemistry between all three really doesn’t make you invested or make you believe that any of these people would actually ever be interested in one another romantically. When you also consider that Colin Firth’s character is married and that Kelly MacDonald’s character never actually existed, it makes the part of the story seem less flattering on Firth’s character’s part and all the more pointless. Matthew Macfadyen does perform well in these scenes, often pulling off the awkward nerdy character well, but that doesn’t distract from the fact that these scenes weren’t needed at all to give the story it’s emotional weight, if anything it lessens it. 

Warner Bros.

Though the scenes where MacFadyen plays a bit of a dork are fun, they add to the film’s tonal predicament. Quite a lot of the film is played for laughs, at a lot of points it feels like the operation is being planned by a group of children. When things start going well for them, Firth and Macfadyen start acting as though they’ve just been asked out to prom. When you balance this with scenes where we see a homeless man who’s slowly dying from rat poison as a caring nurse comforts him in last moments, the film feels as though it’s not sure where it wants to stand. 

Operation Mincemeat is a well acted film that tells the story of a very fascinating part of the Second World War. However, it adds so much for the audience’s entertainment that it loses momentum with the story it’s mainly trying to tell. It does still succeed in being emotional in parts, however, a lot of the film can be rather tiresome.

Operation Mincemeat releases in cinemas on 15th April 2022

By Freddie Deighton

Freddie is the Interviews Editor and resident Batman expert at FilmHounds. He has a degree in Digital Film Production from Ravensbourne University London and he graduated from The BRIT School. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd for more movie ramblings