As the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.
In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
After Black September's assassination of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, Prime Minister Golda Meir okays a covert 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
Atlantic Productions, producers of BAFTA-nominated documentary Munich: Mossad's Revenge, listed several discrepancies between Spielberg's film and the information it obtained from interviews with Mossad agents involved in the operation. It noted that the film suggests one group carried out almost all the assassinations, whereas in reality it was a much larger team. Mossad did not work with a mysterious French underworld figure as portrayed in the book and the film. The assassination campaign did not end because agents lost their nerve but because of the Lillehammer affair in which an innocent Moroccan waiter was killed. This is not mentioned in the film. The targets were not all directly involved in Munich, which Spielberg only acknowledges in the last five minutes. The murder of a female Dutch assassin depicted in the film, as well as in George Jonas' book "Vengeance", went unacknowledged by the documentary, implying that it is completely fictional. See more »
When the team is eating dinner after the assassination where Avner is nearly blown up in the adjoining room, the scene begins with a white rug under the table and then the rug is mystically gone in the later scene and bare wood floors are seen. See more »
'Munich' is, on the whole, a straight forward hit-man movie. The assignments are handed out; the team is assembled, each with their own specialty; and they travel about Europe plotting and carrying out their hits. We have the inevitable paranoia, the double agents and suspicious loyalties. So far, so familiar. Only 'Munich' is wrapped in the thin veneer of 'history' and 'fact', and mob bosses and corporate espionage is replaced with Middle Eastern politics and Israeli-Arab relations. I mention this because the politics of 'Munich' are really nothing more than a topical plot devise, used the same way as cold-war relations and soviet villainy was used thirty years ago.
What prevents 'Munich' becoming just a generic updated-cold-war thriller, is the sheer quality of the production. From the flawless recreation of European capitals in the early seventies to the impeccable costume design to the beautiful cinematography 'Munich' is a visually fascinating movie. The performances are universally outstanding, with Bana in particular bringing a sense of tough nobility that seems to be his forte. The script is intelligent and thought-provoking, and it is Kushner's focus on the emotional and psychological landscape of his characters rather than the details of political contract killing, that ultimately lifts the movie above the generic. The kind of self-consciously poetic prose for which he is known, so often seeming unrealistically erudite, is kept to a minimum, and when it does appear, is so beautifully written and performed that all reservations are forgotten.
Ultimately, the greatest praise must be reserved for Spielberg, who has, with 'Munich', created perhaps the first truly adult movie of his career. We see no signs of his trademark sentimentality, his descents into fantasy, his childish simplification of motivation. With 'Munich', he embraces ambiguity and complexity, and as a result, has invited criticism from those who prefer their drama simplistically black and white. Above all, one can't help but wonder what the Spielberg oeuvre would look had he not dedicated his career to kid's movies, fantasies and feel-good sci-fi.
'Munich' is an intelligent and gripping thriller that is a major contender for award recognition, and deservedly so. An outstanding achievement.
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