Munich (2005)


Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciaran Hinds, Omar Metwally, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zurer, Geoffrey Rush

Director: Steven Spielberg

Summary: Five men are chosen to eliminate those responsible for the Munich Olympic terrorist attacks

Other Nominations: Director, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Film Editing

I’m not a fan of post-Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg’s work in general, but I have to admit he crafted a quality movie here. This is less a film about the Munich Olympics terrorist attacks than it is a broader look into the moral ambiguity that is created through a perpetual cycle of vengeance like there is with the Israel-Palestine conflict: if every act of vengeance always begets another act of vengeance, then a conflict can never end until one side annihilates the other, and at that point is there a difference between the good guys and the bad guys? In doing so, the film sees the conflict in something other than just black and white terms-an unusual step for a Hollywood film, and one that only a Jewish director could get away with without being savaged (although he still got a lot of flack for it regardless).

The other focus the film has is how these missions to assassinate the terrorists responsible for the Munich massacre end up poisoning their souls, making previously unthinkable lines get crossed, and how that poison never leaves you-you can never escape the paranoia that your life (and your families lives) are in danger. This works pretty well too, although much like the previous thing, it suffers from an inability to keep things subtle. The biggest issue the movie has is that it will make sure that the audience cannot possibly miss what the movie’s themes are because every line of dialogue is basically screaming them at you. I enjoy a straightforward movie, but there’s a difference between making your themes clear and driving home those same themes over and over again, in the exact same way (through dialogue between characters) every single time and without adding any new insight over the course of the film.

When it’s at its best, Munich is a great, tense thriller which explores its themes well; when it’s at its worst, the movie beats you over the head with its themes with blunt dialogue and it completely disregards the idea of “show don’t tell.” Still, a very solid film that’s consistently engaging and one of the best from later-career Steven Spielberg.

Rating: B


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