Operation Mincemeat is go! Here’s why you’ll love this witty retelling of the “Monty Python” plan that helped win WW2

OPERATION MINCEMEAT (2022) Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley, Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu and Johnny Flynn as Ian Fleming.

© Haversack Films Limited.

You don’t have to be a fan of war movies to love Operation Mincemeat – the WW2 drama that retells the Allies’ audacious hoodwinking of Hitler.

From the surreal real-life story that “edges into Monty Python” to the lead performance that makes this one of the best Colin Firth movies, here’s your war-room briefing on the Operation Mincemeat film.

Operation Mincemeat release date: April 15th

What were the historical events that inspired Operation Mincemeat?

They say truth is stranger than fiction. Mostly, they’re wrong – visit ODEON in April and you’ll find a bright blue hedgehog, a living vampire and a crime gang led by a sharp-suited wolf.

But Operation Mincemeat might be the strangest of the lot. The real-life deception that inspired director John Madden’s new film was so daring and downright audacious that you couldn’t make it up.

Rewind to July 1943. With World War 2 still hanging in the balance, the Allies knew that gaining the upper hand over Hitler hinged on a successful – but top secret – invasion of Sicily.

Yet British Navy intelligence officer Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and his trusted advisors faced a dilemma.

How could they land 100,000 British troops on this strategically vital Mediterranean island without the Nazis discovering the plan and snuffing it out?

 

 

What happens in the Operation Mincemeat film?

As any famous magician will tell you, the secret to a great trick is misdirection. Montagu needed Hitler to believe the Allies were set to invade Greece and send his forces to the wrong side of the Mediterranean. “The plan begins in Spain,” he explains in the Operation Mincemeat trailer. “Where a corpse will wash up onshore bearing classified letters.”

Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley, Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu

© Haversack Films Limited.

Back in 1943, the corpse in question was that of Glyndwr Michael: a Welsh-born vagrant who had recently perished after ingesting rat poison and whose body fitted the premise that he was an officer who had drowned at sea. The Nazis would discover the body, reasoned Montagu, find the papers and believe every word of the fake invasion of Greece – while the Allies took Sicily. As Montagu says: “We’re going to play a humiliating trick on Hitler.”

So begins the greatest ruse in British military history, as MI5 sets about creating a watertight backstory for the supposed naval officer, right down to the photo of his wife in the corpse’s wallet. What could possibly go wrong?

Johnny Flynn as Ian Fleming.

© Haversack Films Limited.

Do I need to be a fan of war movies to enjoy Operation Mincemeat?

Not necessarily. The director hasn’t flinched from showing the flash of gunshots and tramp of boots as a generation of young men lay down their lives.

But there’s a caper quality, too, that means the Operation Mincemeat film has moments of levity, even humour – whether that’s the scepticism of naval officer Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen) or just the sheer black humour of the plan.

“They almost had to come up with a plan that was so crazy, the Germans couldn't swallow it,” Madden told Empire.

“They knew the enemy was trying to deceive them, so it had to be implausible enough to make it believable. It’s very surprising and very unusual. It's not po-faced. The film doesn't always appear to take itself seriously because the idea of actually reanimating a dead man, in itself, edges over into Monty Python territory.”

Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu, Johnny Flynn as Ian Fleming, and Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley,

© Haversack Films Limited.

Why was director John Madden attracted to the story of Operation Mincemeat?

The director recalls he had only a passing knowledge of the story, but found himself captivated by historian Ben Macintyre’s celebrated 2010 book on the subject. Meanwhile, in a round-table video interview, Matthew Macfadyen welcomed the focus on these lesser-celebrated war heroes.

“There’s no reflected glory for them,” said the British actor of the lead characters’ selfless work. “Not only could they not speak to their families about it – you know, this strange thing that spies go through – but I don’t think Cholmondeley or Montagu ever spoke about Operation Mincemeat to anybody.”

Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu

© Haversack Films Limited.

How does Operation Mincemeat rank amongst the best Colin Firth movies?

Since 1995’s Pride And Prejudice, Colin Firth has been Hollywood’s go-to choice whenever an upstanding English gentleman is required. The Hampshire-born actor has lit up modern movies from Kingsman to Bridget Jones.

But perhaps Firth’s greatest career peaks have come in historical dramas like 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and his Academy Award-winning role as tongue-tied King George VI in 2010’s The King’s Speech.

Now, the Operation Mincemeat film finds this national treasure firmly in his wheelhouse and on the form of his life.

“Colin, I think, has found his feet as an absolute unparalleled kind of leading actor,” Madden told GamesRadar.

“I ended up with the two of them, with Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen, as the kind of ideal casting for this. They fit the characterisations almost perfectly. As it happens, they've both played Mr. Darcy, which has been pointed out before. But really, they're just an incredibly good match.”

 


 

Who else is in the Operation Mincemeat film cast?

British society boasted some big characters in the war years, and Madden has resurrected them all. Singer Johnny Flynn gives a note-perfect portrayal of naval officer and future Bond novelist Ian Fleming. The Death Of Stalin’s Simon Russell Beale captures the cantankerous maverick spirit of Winston Churchill. The League Of Gentlemen and Doctor Who’s Mark Gatiss plays Communist activist Ivor Montagu.

Kelly Macdonald as Jean Leslie and Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley

© Haversack Films Limited.

If you saw 2017’s Darkest Hour, you’ll remember the key role played by Lily James as Churchill’s secretary Elizabeth Layton – and the female characters in the Operation Mincemeat film are likewise pivotal.

Kelly Macdonald [Trainspotting/Boardwalk Empire] is one of them,” says Madden. “She plays a character called Jean Leslie, a real person, obviously, and she is very, very significant in the creation of the whole thing. The other is Penelope Wilton [The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel], who plays the trusted confidant of Ewen Montagu and his trusted right hand as it were, and she has an extraordinarily significant role at the centre of it as well.”

What is the Operation Mincemeat release date – and why should I see it at ODEON?

Operation Mincemeat is released on April 15th – and seeing it at ODEON is the best way to lose yourself in a historical drama that winds back the clock. With both unbearable tension and irresistible humour, the draw of this movie goes far beyond history buffs and war movie connoisseurs, captivating anyone who appreciates a tale of plucky underdogs attempting the ultimate bluff.

Official poster for OPERATION MINCEMEAT (2022)

© Haversack Films Limited.

“Operation Mincemeat is one of those stories that exists in the ether,” Madden told Yahoo.

“I think of it as a kind of an urban myth. It's bizarre and odd, and unlikely, and surprising, and funny, and then incongruous and very tense. And it's dealing with incredibly high stakes…”

 


 

Operation Mincemeat release date: April 15th

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