Munich (15)



Thriller (2005)
163mins US

Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Mathieu Kassovitz, Ciaran Hinds
Director: Steven Spielberg
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

At the 1972 summer games in Munich, a group of Palestinian militants, calling themselves Black September, kidnap 11 Israeli athletes from the Olympic village. The world watches in horror as local police struggle to gain control of the situation, culminating in the deaths of the abducted athletes during a gun fight at a German military airport. As Israel grieves, one time Mossad agent Avner Kauffman accepts a secret mission from his government to travel across Europe, assassinating the members of Black September responsible for the terrorist outrage. Aided by a crack team of experts in their fields, Avner ventures from Athens, Geneva and London to Paris and Rome exacting his country's revenge.

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LondonNet Film Review

The '72 Hurtle
Stephen Spielberg kind-of launches into socio-economic and religious controversy in his latest adventure-thriller...

The man best known for extra-terrestrial encounters has taken up a heavy load with his newest film. Based on the little-known aftermath of the tragic 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attack, Munich follows the revenge efforts of a small group of Israeli intelligence officers as they hunt down the terrorists.

Eric Bana takes up the title role of Avnar, a newly married and slightly disgruntled Mossad officer in charge of four reasonably meticulous and international assassins: crude South African getaway driver Steve (Daniel Craig), German document forger Hans (Hanns Zischler), toymaker-turned-bombmaker Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz), and "clean-up" crew Carl (Ciarin Hinds). While the story follows the tracking, plotting and killing of various Palestinian "Black September" members, Spielberg's concentration is on the group's intensifying inter-relationships; personal arguments inflate into larger questions about themselves, the killings, and Israel, itself.

Not merely a drop in the Goonies bucket, Munich has pushed Spielberg into a controversial limelight. Some members of the Israeli government have lambasted him for questioning counter-terrorism, and surviving Black September member Abu Daoud criticised him for adhering to the Zionist side of events. Even George Jonas, who wrote Vengeance, upon which the film is based, said Spielberg was "humanising demons."

Clearly, Spielberg has trouble with both camps.

In terms of technical merit, the film flaunts the brooding, soul-conflicted facials of Eric Bana - who is surprisingly adequate in the lead role - and pre-Bond action from Daniel Craig (in a sort-of lengthy, low-budget, still-hungover kind of way). Perhaps the most notable performance is by little-known French actor Mathieu Amalric, who plays highbrow informant Louis with an alluring, uncomfortable gusto. The action, itself, is thick but not impenetrable, with breaks for quaint dinners and political banter.

The problem, then, is that it becomes difficult to determine where Spielberg draws the line, which makes protagonists antagonists and vice versus - and not in the romantic way he had hoped. Sadly, the film becomes tepid as Spielberg attempts to face the issues while still hurtling them.

Megan M. Retka


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