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
The film was denounced by the Israeli government when first released in 2005, as they found its depiction of Mossad (the Israeli Secret Service) and real-life events to be highly inaccurate. One Israeli government spokesperson at the time remarked, "Spielberg should stick to making films about dinosaurs." See more »
Just before the credits roll, Avner asks probing questions of Ephraim. They are in a small park on the north end of Gantry Plaza State Park, near 48th. Ave. & Center Blvd., just north of Avalon Riverview, Queens West, Long Island City. SSE across the East River are the high-rises of Peter Cooper Village behind Avner and to his left (our right), and the low-rises of Stuyvesant Town directly behind him. The World Trade Center towers have not been digitally added to these shots - "Break bread with me, Ephraim" - but have been added to the pullback about a minute later. See more »
Just because this film has been attacked by pols and shills, here's my 2 cents. Spielberg manages to set the agenda, and sets it correctly. It is indeed about the antecedents to 9/11, and bravo to Spielberg for taking it on, but not somewhere in Afghanistan, but at its genesis, the squalor of Palestine.
Spielberg's film is an essay on revenge and how hopeless and self-defeating that ancient temptation is. It's brave of Spielberg to say it to us now; brave, too, to paint the avenging Israelis as somewhere below the Angels. Let's be candid: There are harsh sentiments expressed here, by some Israeli characters, that the Evangelical Lobby simply doesn't want aired.
Spielberg's handling of the Bana character is masterful. Noteworthy is how uncompromising it is: this is a man whose identity has collapsed. It's entirely right that his Israeli handler should refuse the Sabbath-meal invitation at the end, realizing that the bonds of the older religion (and pre-Zionist identity) are shattered and meaningless.
Spielberg might have improved this product (some of the dialogues are horribly wooden). But that's not important. That a mainstream US film should go where this film goes is significant. This is a major-minor event in Spielberg's long and luminous career.
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