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Munich (Special Edition) (2005)

Cast: Eric Bana, Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, more...
Director: Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg
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Rating:
Studio: MCA Home Video
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Politics and Social Issues
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Synopsis
Much as Steven Spielberg followed 1993's special-effects blockbuster Jurassic Park with a far more downbeat and personal project later the same year, Schindler's List, in 2005 after tearing up the box office with War of the Worlds the director closed out the year with a powerful and thoughtful drama about the human costs of international terrorism. The 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, were supposed to be a peaceful gathering of outstanding athletes from around the world, but on September 5, the games took a sinister turn when eight masked Palestinian terrorists invaded the Olympic village, killing two Israeli athletes and abducting nine others. The kidnappers demanded safe passage out of Germany in addition to the release of Arab prisoners in Israeli and German prisons, but when they arrived at the Munich airport they were met by German police and military forces, and in the melee that followed, all nine hostages were killed. In the wake of the killings, the Israeli government gave Mossad, the nation's intelligence agency, a special assignment -- to track down and eliminate the Palestinians responsible for the death of the Israeli athletes. A young and idealistic Mossad agent (Eric Bana) is assigned to the four-man unit created to wipe out the Olympic terrorists, but while he believes in serving his country, as their bloody work goes on he begins to buckle under the weight of his work and wonders if he can morally justify his nation's acts of revenge. Munich also stars Geoffrey Rush, Daniel Craig, Mathieu Kassovitz, and Ciarán Hinds. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Munich (Special Edition) (2005)
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6.90 (133 votes)
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Munich (Special Edition) (Bonus Disc) (2005)
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6.60 (10 votes)
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GreenCine Member Reviews

Courage and conscience maybe, but not a great film by SBarnett August 7, 2006 - 9:43 PM PDT
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6 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Roger Ebert said that Munich was for Spielberg an act of courage and conscience. It may be (more on this); but it is not a great film. The lighting is beautiful, as it is in all of Spielberg's films, and the cinematography is nice if you like your films smooth and tight and shiny as a granite countertop, and just as cold and sterile. The action is carefully choreographed--Look at this! Look at that!--Hollywood production values at their peak. The manipulation of sentiment is just as blatant and relentless. The characterization is thin, following the standard set by so many action movies: the crazy bomb expert, the loose cannon who wants to shoot everything that moves, the jaded and somewhat intellectual veteran, the hardline party man, the duplicitous bosses, the sexy femme fatale, the loving and understanding wife, the innocent child, all depicted in relation to the vulnerable, sensitive, capable leader who finds himself in the end. There is nothing new in this.

Why is this film called an act of courage and conscience? Because Spielberg stares at Munich through Israel's eyes yet dares to glimpse it from the Palestinian? Because he dwells on the fact that Israel chose to compromise its values, to risk losing its soul, in order to survive? Because he suggests that there is no peace at the end of all this (with the World Trade Center in the background)? Are we really so averse to hearing these messages? If so, why?

The best parts of this film, the parts that ring truest, are the conversations between Avner (Eric Bana) and the tellingly named "Papa" (Michael Lonsdale); Avner standing in front of a model kitchen on display; and Avner talking with his mother (Gilga Almagor). "Papa" is not Avner's father, yet he becomes the father he never had; the kitchen becomes the idealized home and hearth Avner yearns for; and the mother is the mother he had and has lost. These must be seen as Spielberg's private obsessions, as they appear in film after film, from ET to AI. They break your heart, and Spielberg knows it. When will he show us how, when, where, and why they broke his?

Clunk by talltale April 23, 2006 - 6:37 AM PDT
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5 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Because I prefer the darker, less popular films of Steven Spielberg, I was quite looking forward to MUNICH, even given its mixed reviews. But I found it such a half-assed failure on so many levels that it left me wondering "What were they thinking--Mr. Spielberg and his writers Tony Kushner (of "Angels in America") and Eric Roth? From near the beginning--as lead Eric Bana looks out his airplane window, reliving/imagining the trapping of the Israeli athletes prior to their massacre (something the character never actually witnessed; and as imagination, well, the human mind does not work in such loving, long, unbroken, cinematic, show-'em-everything style when one is fantasizing)--to much later when one of the assassins, after helping to kill many people, suddenly decides that Jewish law prohibits this, red "warning" flags keeps popping up throughout the film.

These and other instances underscore the director's club-footed style--action, clunk, philosophizing, clunk, action--right through to the tiresome finale. And about those action scenes, sorry, but they are not staged that well. The entry into Libya is laughable, as is the escape after the failure to assassinate Salameh. The scene with the telephone and the little girl is something we've seen many times, and since the group seems more than willing to kill whomever gets in its way (though the characters keep professing otherwise), it makes little sense that they would try so hard to avoid this. (The one character who WOULD care most about preventing this--the bomb maker--does not even know what is happening.) While I applaud the opportunity to hear both sides of the Palestinian and Israeli story, again, it's done in that same philosophy/clunk/action mode.

At the end of this ugly and, I think, pointless film, could anyone past the age of, say, 25 be surprised to learn that vengeance wreaks more vengeance, bloodletting more bloodletting? And of course, that we are ALL implicated. The most interesting part of the movie is the French family that provides "names for money." With actors aboard such as the superb Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, this section is the most unusual, fascinating and--within its own small framework--seems the best integrated (perhaps because the French, when they philosophize, actually seem to understand and feel what they are talking about). Otherwise, the movie lurches from killing to bloody killing, with philosophy inserted at regular intervals. And--oh, yes--it goes on for nearly three hours.

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