‘Operation: Nation’ (2023) Review: Too Many Topics Botch The Film Entirely

The Letterboxd summary of this movie is longer than my list of thoughts on it. Here’s a shorter synopsis. “Operation: Nation” (original: Kryptonim Polska) follows a young man and woman who have an unexpected meet-cute at a bar. The boy, Staszek, who was set to be a Premier League star but became injured and lost out on his dream, now sharing a small room with his K-pop-obsessed teenage sister, is super bored and irritated with his life. So he decides to join his radical-minded cousin in his nationalist group. Pola, on the other hand, is a liberal-minded girl who has moved to Warsaw to live a better life, but when her boyfriend cheats on her and offers a polyamorous relationship, she goes back to her hometown. The two meet and the rest is history. Ah, I wish I could say that, but what follows is a series of events with a comedic effect that makes one contemplate the reason for watching such films. There are some random stylized scenes that look very beautiful, but I just want to know why? There are some parts that are somewhat funny. Even with a script like this, the actors, who are unknown to me, do a decent job of making this film watchable.

It is obviously not the first time someone has tried to portray the strangeness of Nazi operations in a satirical manner, but the countless times and the numerous anti-war films depicting the theme have made the topic a bit of a sore point. I can’t help but think this had something to do with Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” although “Operation: Nation” is in an entirely modern setting. The movie begins with a celebration of Hitler’s birthday that is so absurd that I thought I had put on something that came out in the early 2000s. Roman has to be the most interesting character in the film, although he is quite flat, and we don’t really ever understand why he has become the person that he has, or if one day he woke up and chose violence. His followers are somewhat dimwitted and don’t really understand the weight of their actions, probably for the comic effect of it all. They follow him blindly, even deciding to bomb a place of worship and a pride parade. The time Pola and Staszek spend together on screen is quite entertaining, and there was a need for more exploration there. They have great chemistry, and even while arguing, they are charming to watch. Roman and Staszek’s relationship is a bit confusing, too; we don’t quite understand why Staszek randomly agrees to join Roman just because he’s related. It’s very obvious that they are miscreants, as the first time we see Staszek interact with Roman is when he picks them up for court after the infamous “Hitler birthday party.”

There is a lot happening in this film, even with its super short run time of one hour and thirty-seven minutes. There is something strange about the pacing of the film. It’s fast, but it also feels like nothing has happened in a long time because it’s all been seen before. Accepting one’s sexuality, the journey to finding one’s purpose, a love story that is technically enemies to lovers but not at the same time… too many lost ideas in an overflowing pot. How Netflix describes it makes “Operation: Nation” look like a romantic comedy, but I think they forgot about the romance part for most of the film, except when convenient. Who exactly is coming in the way of this “forbidden romance”? Is it Roman? Their parents or their ideologies? Because Staszek doesn’t even know what his ideologies are, plus he doesn’t even tell Pola what he has been up to, but I’m not going to complain about the “followed by a series of surprising events” bit because they are truly very strange events. The cinematography and visuals of the film are nice and would’ve been useful in another film. The songs used in certain scenes are also great, making one want to serenade along to the catchy music and words.

I was recently introduced to the Polish media scene, and from that, I have started to see some common denominators in Polish films and shows. For a film that is about radicals and liberals, it sure doesn’t take away from the dancing to techno-dubstep music with colorful light sequences in the film. “Operation: Nation” is clearly a very unserious movie, but for an outsider, I’m not sure it quite hits the right spots. As a seasoned comedy-disliker, I may not be the right person to judge, but some things may have been lost in translation here. Given the nature of such films, they must be taken with a grain of salt, but are we able to spend time on such a film right now? It would’ve been nice to see some Polish context for the story as well. The movie skims over some important topics, but barely, making everything scrambled eggs.

Without spoilers, the movie ends with the expectation of another one, and I’m not sure that would be ideal. Maybe if this film had come out 15 years ago, it might have been something else, but today, at the pace Netflix and other OTT platforms put out content, there is no way such a film could be memorable or even considered for a reboot. Although the topics of this film have been well received and need discussion and commentary, I’m not sure this is the form it needs to take. Maybe with some tweaks here and there, a longer run time, fewer drugs, and more thoughts, “Operation: Nation” could’ve been salvaged, but it becomes a victim of trying to be hip and modern while contextualizing important topics that just don’t work. There is some violence, lots of drugs, and some profanity. I would give “Operation: Nation” 2 out of 5 Polish Dumplings (for the actors) because I think it’s quite dump-worthy.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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I would give "Operation: Nation" 2 out of 5 Polish Dumplings (for the actors) because I think it's quite dump-worthy.'Operation: Nation' (2023) Review: Too Many Topics Botch The Film Entirely