REVIEW: ‘Operation: Nation’ Can’t Decide What It Wants To Be

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Operation Nation — But Why Tho

Staszek Sulkowski struggles with a dead-end job and little hope for the future. Feeling isolated, he soon falls in with his cousin Roman and his group of neo-nazis. Not genuinely committed to the cause, but with nowhere else to go, Staszek sticks around till happenstance causes him to run into Pola, a leftist woman that makes him begin to question the choices he is making in the Polish Netflix Original Operation Nation.

This movie’s core message about fascists, racism, and the need for tolerance are themes I can always get behind. But while its reason for being is solid, the delivery that Operation Nation uses to present this message has me feeling uneasy. In particular, it is how it portrays the villains in the film that leaves me unable to truly get behind this film.

Roman and his Nazi group are portrayed largely as a gaggle of bumbling stooges for most of the movie. Inept, unintelligent, and poorly coordinated, the group comes across as more of a walking punchline than a threat to anyone. While I appreciate the desire to paint such individuals in such lights, disregarding such personalities feels poorly considered at best. This also works against the film as it enters its final act when the group suddenly becomes truly dangerous as they plan to bomb an LGBTQ Pride parade. The movie’s shift from having the group barely capable of getting out of their own way to legitimate danger broke my suspension of disbelief as well as left the film in a tonal conundrum. Is it a comedic farce about fascists, or a serious look at the dangers such groups threaten society with? Honestly, I’m still not sure.

While Operation Nation’s tonal handling of its main themes suffers through its hour-and-a-half run time, the movie’s love plot actually lands quite well. Staszek (Marciej Musialowski) and Pola(Magdalena Mascianica) do an impressive job delivering their characters’ fledging romance, even as Stazek strives to hide his association with Roman from his new girlfriend. There are some magnificently implemented moments between the two that deliver the joy and exuberance of young love in its truest form. With both characters entering the film feeling lost and alone, the joy and strength they come to draw from each other is wonderfully delivered by both the pair’s acting, as well as the cinematography.

The rest of the acting in Operation Nation is as strong as its confused tone can permit. While the cast tries to deliver both the goofy and serious sides of the film with equal effort, the former never allows the latter to fully come through. This is most true for Roman (Borys Szyc). Having to attempt to bounce back and forth between a bumbling substance abuser and a genuine threat is just too tall an order to pull off.

Ultimately, Operation Nation delivers some strong acting and some strong points, even if the approach to those points is often muddled by a story that suffers from split personalities.

Operation: Nation is streaming now on Netflix.

Operation: Nation
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10


Operation: Nation delivers some strong acting and some strong points, even if the approach to those points is often muddled by a story that suffers from split personalities.

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