Operation Curveball

Am I the only one who did not know that Germany played a part in the U.S. going to war in Iraq? I had no idea! The film, directed and co-written by German Johannes Naber (The Albanian, Age of Cannibals), is a farce about how a botch by the Germans partially led to George W. Bush ordering the invasion of Iraq in 2003. A level of incompetence which we normals cannot even begin to believe happens. Then not only happens but makes its way to the highest levels.

Right at the beginning of the film there is a black screen with the words True Story followed by Unfortunately. Then a male voice says, “What do we become if we stop searching for the truth?” It seems like these words propel Naber’s film forward. In a rather tongue firmly planted in cheek type way.

An unbelievable story becomes reality here. A crazy tale involving the German government, the American Secret Service, Colin Powell, Iraq, and anthrax. How they all come together comes to life here.

What is a country’s intelligence service to be called when it produces something faulty? I dunno, but according to this film when German intelligence did just that it led to war. A big mistake. A mistake that changed geopolitics forever. An unreliable source was all that Bush needed to justify his seeking revenge against Saddam Hussein.

Curveball was the code name for an engineer named Rafid Alwan (Dar Salim – The Devil’s Double, Exodus: Gods and Kings). A man who had actually defected from Iraq. He worked as a chemical engineer. He told the Germans that he had worked at a plant which was making weapons. Weapons of mass destruction. Good story, but it was false. Alwan just wanted German citizenship. False yet it was believed.

While the resulting film could have been serious and dark what we get here instead is dark humour. Mixed with some slapstick. Some parts are well done while others less so. Seems like it could not be decided on silliness or irreverent. Sways back and forth. Lacks a solid identity at times.

That weakness along with some poorly written dialogue and set up scenes leads to a film that is not awful, but really does not rank up there with strong political comedies like television series Veep or the film Wag the Dog.

Operation Curveball is now available on VOD.

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