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.
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.
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
One of the posters in the athletes' apartment is of Masada (captioned in Hebrew script). Masada is of great significance in Jewish history, as it is a fortress Hebrew rebels held out in against Roman troops. Many of the rebels were killed or committed suicide, but it relates to the themes of death and resistance in this movie. See more »
When Avner is on the airplane to Geneva, the flight number starts with SA, for South African Airways, which has never flown to Geneva. 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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