Monday, January 16, 2006
Steven Spielberg’s Munich grabs you from the start and keeps pulling you in deeper and deeper.
The film opens with the terrorist group Black September hopping the gates at the Olympic Village in Munich in 1972. They are dressed as Olympic athletes and are helped by American Olympians who assume they’ve also been out partying long after curfew.
The group takes 11 Israeli athletes hostage and eventually murder them.
The entire scene isn’t played out from start to finish, however. We see the start of the siege and takeover and then we only get the television coverage as we see Israeli and Palestinian people watching the coverage.
Israel, behind the leadership of Prime Minister Golda Meir, decides that it must react harshly and creates a secret team to assassinate all of those who had a hand in the attack. This is to, as Steve (Daniel Craig) says, show the world that you "don’t f*ck with the Jews."
They group isn’t a bunch of mercenaries. Instead, they are relatively ordinary men who have knowledge in the right fields. Avner (Eric Bana, who is fantastic once again) is their leader.
Bana is fantastic, as is all of the supporting cast. Spielberg does a wonderful job of capturing the time period and staging what time in the movie to show the flashbacks to the Munich attack.
It’s clearly his best work in some time and the movie should absolutely be nominated for Best Picture.
The film works on a few levels. First, it’s a great plot-and-execute movie with them deciding how to best do the job and then act it out.
But at its deeper levels, the film has a lot to say, especially in the transformation of Avner.
The plots go well at first and are relatively clean. There is a belief in what they are doing and it goes well.
There are some near misses and then questions start to arise. You start to wonder where the names are coming from and why. Are they all names of people with direct links to the Black September attack? What about the people who replace the murdered leaders? Are they supposed to kill them too? When would that end?
Eventually, the movie makes its point about the endless cycle of violence in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the problems with the way both have reacted to each other’s attacks.
It’s there that the brilliance of the movie comes through.
It’s also in the last shot of the film, which, of course, isn’t a coincidence.