MUNICH  RATED-(R)-164 MIN-2005

                                   

                                                                                          Avner

                                                                        Do you want to know mama?
                                                                      Do you want to know what I did?             

                                                                                         Mother

                                                                  No. Whatever it took. Whatever it takes.
                                                                A place on earth. We have a place on earth.
                                                                                          At last.

 

Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” is a very brave film. It takes a truly horrific moment in history: the kidnapping and subsequent execution of 11 Israeli athletes by the Palestinian terrorist group: (Black September), at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, and weaves a story of suspense, intrigue and revenge to tell the tale of the consequences of actions for retribution, that reverberates throughout this brilliant piece of film-making. It is Spielberg’s European film. It does not pretend to know the answers to any of the very complicated problems, but it certainly asks some very important questions.We see in the opening of the movie, prefaced with a blood red fade in-fade out of the title city, the events that led up to the killing of the athletes. We see the horror and violence of this act, and we understand the need for finding those who were responsible and bringing them to justice; or so, Spielberg would have you believe. Under direction from prime minister: Golda Meir, an order is given to track down and kill those who were involved in the murder of the athletes. A team is assembled to carry this out, and the heart of the film begins.

Avner, (Eric Bana) a Mossad agent leads the team of agents assigned to track down and assassinate the responsible parties. If caught, Israel will deny any connection to the group; so they will be abandoned. Avner is a patriot and he loves his homeland, his wife is pregnant with their first child, and he believes in his cause… at first. The team assembled are: Steve, (Daniel Craig) Carl, (Ciarán Hinds) Hans, (Hanns Zischler) and Robert,(Mathieu Kassovitz).

Each team member is responsible for a certain specialty whether it be building the explosive devices or handling the cleanup. This is a wonderful group that has been cast and all have memorable scenes in this powerful film. As time goes by and people have been killed, it becomes increasing apparent especially to Avner, that the right people might not always being getting targeted. Avner, who misses his wife and newborn, who have been sent to live in New York for their safety, begins to unravel. The missions are all expertly crafted by Spielberg and you will be on the edge of your seat as he flashes back to the original Munich incident repeatedly throughout he film. A scene involving an overbooked safe house in Europe is funny at first and then it gives the film an opportunity to have both sides speak on this critical issue of land. Another involving French informants who trust no governments, and sell indiscriminately to either side is another scene where questions of loyalty and government are brought up and they are important. What is the point of overthrowing one government if another equally corrupt one gains power?

There is a heartbreaking scene where Avner calls his wife in New York after many missions, and hears his daughter say Daddy; another sacrifice for the greater cause.  Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush) the government contact during the mission is equally funny and frightening as he directs the team with a callous demeanor as he pushes them forward. Where Spielberg’s movie is brave is in the question it poses about right and wrong, and where one might cross the line in the name of retribution, and what theses actions have as consequences on the people involved. Have they now become exactly what they are fighting against? Have we all forgotten who we were?
    
        There’s the rub: Yes, we understand Israel’s need for a response, for the senseless execution of its athletes, and for a history of oppression, but then there is another side here that talks about oppression too. Why would these heinous act be carried out? Do governments act on a different level than the people who are asked to carry out the actions? Are its soldier’s just pawns? Why such a specific act be done? The lines are blurred, and Spielberg does not play it safe.This movie demands that it does not. In the end, does everybody lose?…Spielberg’s film asks all those Important questions. There is an crucial scene where the very meek team member, Robert a toy maker who now makes bombs, explains to Avner that he has lost who he thought he was by participating in these acts of revenge. He is broken and has been used and abandoned by his government. He says he has lost what is pure and possibly- his soul. Munich kind of got lost  the year it came out and if you haven’t seen this great film yet….you should.

 
( I strongly recommend you watch the documentary "One Day In September” to
get a better sense of the events on that fateful day, and the apparent lack of
preparedness of the German Government for handling this terrorist action.)
 http://youtu.be/sSBR7Y0Sa_A