After Black September's assassination of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, Prime Minister Golda Meir okays a black-box operation to hunt down and kill all involved. A team of five gathers in Switzerland led by Avner, a low-level Mossad techie whose father was a war hero and whose wife is pregnant. It's an expendable team, but relying on paid informants, they track and kill several in Europe and Lebanon. They must constantly look over their shoulders for the CIA, KGB, PLO, and their own sources. As the body count mounts -- with retribution following retribution -- so do questions, doubts, and sleepless nights. Loyalties blur. What does it mean to be a Jew? Written by
"It's strange, to think of oneself as an assassin." - Carl
If you ask me who was the most talented director working in film today, I'd hesitate for a while. Then I'd look at you and say, "Probably Steven Spielberg'. A lot of film directors in Hollywoodwho are well-known are overrated (Oliver Stone, Sofia Coppola, Anthony Minghella, etc), but one that is not overrated at all is Spielberg. The man is obviously a cinematic genius who thrilled and enthralled us with his grim but unimaginably powerful WWII epic 'Saving Private Ryan', his still-frightening 'Jaws', his severely underrated 'Amistad' and of course, his heart-breaking masterpiece that still remains one of the twenty best films of all time 'Schindler's List'. I can't even begin to describe to you how jazzed I was about the controversial vengeance drama 'Munich', which was Spielberg's first Oscar-contending movie in seven years. After viewing it I have to say I was a bit let down, but I still got what I predicted I'd get going into the theater -- the best film of 2005. Spielberg challenges our beliefs on justice with his intense but painfully realistic bone-chilling masterpiece. You have to see this movie.
Almost around the age of 45-50 remembers the 1972 Olympics incident that happened in Munich. On a gloom September day, eleven innocent Israeli athletes were abducted and taken prisoner by a mob of Palestinian terrorists. The terrorists held them hostage at the Munich airport, then based on a mistake by the Munich police department many terrorists were killed and took all of the unfortunate hostages with them. The film starts after these events when Prime Minister Golda Meir (Lynn Cohen), secretly decides to start a small mission to find the Palestinian's responsible and murder them. She hands the case down to case officer Ephraim (Academy Award Winner Geoffrey Rush - Shine) who hands it over to Meir's ex-bodyguard Avner (Eric Bana - Troy). Avner must leave his family to undergo this mission and form a team to help him complete it. The team is; Steve (Daniel Craig - Layer Cake), the trigger-man, Carl (Ciarin Hinds - HBO's Rome) the clean-up man, Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz - Birthday Girl), an ex-toy maker turned explosives expert, and the elderly Hans (Hanns Zischler - Undercover) who is a forging expert. They five go on a mission of vengeance, but are soon faced with unexpected problems in the process and feelings of guilt which lead some to believe maybe what they are doing isn't righteous.
When creating 'Munich' Steven Spielberg could have sided one way or the other on issue 'revenge killing', but he doesn't, and I strongly admire that. Instead, Spielberg does what any intellectual would do, he presents situations and historical truths and makes you decide for yourself. That's something you can't expect nasty politically-slanted morons like Michael Moore to do. Spielberg provides us with the best film directing in two years with his quiet stroke of genius that is Munich. Spielberg's directing is both electrifying during the action sequences and beautiful during the poignant and thought- provoking scenes like when Kassovitz's Robert questions Bana's Avner about the good of what they are doing in a subway station on the way to assassinate another target. Munich's film editing and cinematography both should win Oscars, while the acting (which isn't getting much acclaim from award mediums) is frightfully close to perfect. Eric Bana gives the performance of his career as Avner that will no doubt impress you, while Kassovitz, Zischler and Craig exceptional also. Rome's Ciarin Hinds turns in an outstanding performance as the ultra-cool clean-up guy Carl that should also win an Oscar nomination, while Geoffrey Rush does wonders with a small role as Avner's case officer (so does Lynn Cohen as Golda Meir).
If Spielberg's 'Munich' doesn't tug at your chest at the end, I would question your humanity. Spielberg doesn't butter this up so it goes down easier, he aims straight for the gut with his razor sharp realism and rubs salt in the wound. 'Munich' isn't a fun film, but there is no question it is a riveting and nearly flawless one. You will have a lot to talk about after the film has ended. With 'Munich', Steven Spielberg gives us one hell of a history lesson. Grade: A (screened at AMC Deer Valley 30, Phoenix, Arizona, 1/7/05)
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