Directed by Steven Spielberg.
Written by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth. Based on the book
Vengeance by George Jonas.
Starring Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds and Geoffrey Rush.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 12/21/05
Wow, wow, wow!
Thanks to a mix of a fantastic
globe-trotting plotline, strong performances by its actors, a
storyline ripped from real-life events that I knew nothing about and
the simple fact that I saw this movie for free, "Munich" was a
top-notch viewing experience from our most celebrated American
Steven Spielberg gives it to us straight, no
chaser, and in "Munich" we see the story behind what happened AFTER
the Black September terrorist attacks during the '72 Munich Games.
Apparently, the Israeli government--in retaliation for losing nearly
a dozen Israeli Olympians in the stunning violence that occurred
during those Games--sent a team of regular citizens to take out
those responsible for planning the attacks on their people.
Spielberg, which takes his story from the book Vengeance, by
George Jonas, uses the idea that this team of regular Joes (or
Joshes, depending on your point of view) was led by a government
analyst, a guy named Avner (Eric Bana), and over the course of the
next 12 months set out to take down as many of the Palestinian
regime members that planned these attacks as they could. The
five-person team is aided by a shady European intel contact named
Louis (Mathieu Amalrac) and is funded by the Israeli government, led
by Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush), but ultimately it falls to Avner to help
make the Palestine people aware that no evil deed will go
Please note: this bad boy is violent.
Not kinda violent, either; in New Spielberg fashion (referring to
the time period since "Schindler's List" in '93), "Munich" features
many, many bodies getting lit up by gunfire, explosions, knives and
a few other odds & ends. One girl gets it with what looks like
a blowgun and when she bleeds...oh boy. This is not a big deal
for me, but I know many that don't like much bloodshed in their
films; if you are that person, strongly consider skipping this
movie, as good as it is. Because Spielberg tells his story
both with the main plot as well as cutting back to the actual events
of Munich (he gives us every bodybag right up to the fatal firefight
at a Berlin-area airport), you don't go too long between guys
getting knocked over by machine gun fire.
If you can get past this, "Munich" is truly
great work. Bana is a consistently great actor; another guy
that I can't seem to understand in terms of his lack of breakout
stardom, he's now been excellent in every film he's ever done, since
"Chopper" in 2000. Daniel Craig, soon to be James Bond for the
next few years, is strong as a member of Avner's team; Rush is
great, Ayelet Zorer (as Avner's wife) is great, all of the actors
are great. The absolute throwaway bit actors are great,
too...Spielberg can sometimes be so great with actors that you can't
understand why he makes movies that are sometimes so middling (like
"The Terminal", or
his share of the work in
"A.I."). But he's in top form here, making me forget
(temporarily) the partial debacle that was
In contrast to the helter skelter nature of
me dazed & confused throughout that thriller--the politics of
"Munich" are complex but not over your head. You get behind
both sides of the continuous conflict between the Palestines and the
Israelis; you might not take one, but at least you get an initial
understanding of where each side is coming from. This just
feels good as an audience member, to be sitting there, enjoying the
film as art but also enjoying the film as a conversation piece,
seeing what Spielberg is trying to do in forcing both sides of the
equation into his film without forcing your hand into seeing it as
right or wrong. I really thought the film was excellent in
showing us that the Israelis aren't necessarily right in pursuing a
witch hunt to track down the Palestine braintrust responsible for
all of this; maybe that's why he's such an übertalent.
"Munich" is stellar viewing, and admittedly
my review is wind-aided because I saw this flick for free.
But, this is some of Spielberg's best work, easy, and as a great
learning tool I can guarantee you will take something away about the
two nations in question. Solid!
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard