Munich (2005)

DVD Cover (DreamWorks)
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Overall Rating 72%
Overall Rating
Ranked #696
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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? --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: January 02, 2006
Steven Spielberg doesn't make bad films. It doesn't happen. Even Spielberg's biggest disappointments are usually leaps and bounds better than the best pictures offered up by lesser, sub-standard directors. Most people considered "The Terminal" to be a failure. True, it was at the box office, but can you remember a more visually pleasing film from that year? And what about Tom Hanks performance? "The Terminal" was a great film that received weak response, nothing more, which is the case with a lot of Spielberg's works. "War of the Worlds" was a return to blockbuster form for Spielberg and it paid off in a big way - it did monumental box office and received fairly enjoyable critical acclaim. Now, comes "Munich", the film everyone has been waiting on for the entire year - the film that Spielberg shot in record time - the film that had been called the easy Best Picture winner before anyone had even seen a frame of the film. To say "Munich" is the most talked about film of the year is not an understatement. I would venture to say it has received more buzz than the final installment of the "Star Wars" saga. I sat down to watch "Munich" expecting to be disappointed. Jesus, was I mistaken. "Munich" is not only one of the best films of 2005, but one of Spielberg's greatest cinematic achievements.

The film centers around the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, where several Israeli athletes were taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists and eventually murdered. "Munich" is the story of what happens after, when a broken Israel hires five professional men (Bana, Craig, Hinds, Kassovitz, Zischler) to track down all eleven Palestinians responsible for Munich, and kill them. It it made very clear to the group leader, Avner (Eric Bana) that they no longer exist and that Israel has cut all ties with them. They are to collect the money they need and carry out the job they have been assigned to do, nothing more. For the most part of the film, we watch these five men work together in order to take down the names on the list, including family men and individuals that spark more sympathy than wrath. But, they do not hesitate - they do what their country has asked them to do. Occasionally, we see flashbacks to the Munich games themselves, watching what happens to the hostages and to the terrorists as they undergo the ordeal. What Spielberg has done is amazing - he has clearly taken a stance on one side, but has managed to be able to show these events from both sides. "Munich" is not strictly a pro-Jewish film. Spielberg, Jewish himself, is obviously more sympathetic to the Jewish cause than the Palestinian, but he still gives equal time to both in the film. We feel sorry for the people they are killing, yet somehow, we don't feel as sorry about it as we probably should.

To say "Munich" is a beautiful film would be a travesty. Spielberg has crafted an epic here. There are so many 'Spielberg' shots in this film, it's difficult to count them all. Take, for instance, my favorite shot, where we see the original archived footage of the masked terrorist walking onto the balcony in Munich, and over to the right of the set we see the same man walking out into the balcony at the same time. This was more haunting than anything else, and it creates a weird kind of mythos behind the whole ordeal that leaves us thinking it was only a dream. I also, especially, enjoyed the execution of the 'hits' by all five men, how they seamlessly worked together to accomplish their mission. When the bomb doesn't go off as planned, Hans immediately takes a hand grenade, walks upstairs to the room, kicks open the door, and throws the grenade inside - dead set on completing the task at all costs. These are five men dedicated to their cause, Israel.

In terms of performances, there is not a weak one to be found. Eric Bana is getting better and better as an actor, and as Avner, he evokes all of the strength and empathy we need from that character. We care about him, likely because he has the most compassion and realization for what he is doing. My personal favorite in the film was the underrated Ciaran Hinds as Carl, the most mysterious and most professional of the pack. He does what he is suppose to do, but still questions as to whether or not what he is doing is right. However, he does not hesitate to step up and take action when it is his time to do so. He was, by far, the most complex and engaging character in the film and Hinds deserves a Best Supporting Actor nomination for that commitment. And, I guess I should also mention the phenomenal Geoffrey Rush in a role that really serves as a narrator for the events in the film. He plays a character who seems to have all the power, but yet, none. He can make idle threats but cannot carry them out because, as he tells them early on, they do not work for him. This ensemble was just a dream to watch on screen and I don't think Spielberg made a single bad choice in terms of casting.

There is so much to say about this film, and so little space in which to say it. "Munich" was better than I ever hoped it could be, a true testament to the man who I can now say is the greatest director of all-time, hands down. Sorry, Hitchcock. Sorry, Kubrick. Steven Spielberg has you down for the count. Unfortunately, all of the mixed buzz around this film has taken attention from the most important aspects of the picture - this is a phenomenal motion picture with an intriguing story, excellent execution, and a satisfying pay-off. Who cares about the politics? It is a film. Enjoy it for what it is and stop being so ridiculous. Maybe Spielberg does cater to the Jewish side a little more. So? Spielberg is Jewish - what do you expect? But, he does not let that get in the way of telling the story, and that is really what it is all about...telling the story. "Munich" was a marvelous film, one of the best of the year, and destined to go down as a classic. Can we say: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and so on and so on and so on. If "Munich" is not nominated, the Academy needs to go back to their day jobs.

Ginose #1: Ginose - added 03/12/2007, 10:14 PM
Eh... Speilberg is Speilberg... he's never dynamic and the movies he picks are normally very simple... I liked the performances, the story was so-so... 6.4/10
danimigra #2: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 06:52 PM
really.. but a really good movie... well done for every place you look at it...
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